Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Gospel of the Flying Rat

I am always amazed when the good Lord smacks me upside the head with a little lesson. Not to mention dazed, and partially brain-damaged. Regardless, now and again I get a neat little lesson taught to me.

Last night, I was dutifully hacking away at the keyboard; trying to get back the writing chops that have atrophied horribly in the last year. In keeping with custom, I allowed the pet monsters to roam wild while I attempted to fan a spark of genius. I have written before about the sugar gliders, and the unrestrained havoc they can wreak. I have taken some pains to describe the tiny terror known as Phoebe. For anyone new, imagine the Tasmanian Devil, reduced to roughly the size of a hamster.

Phoebe likes to explore her little world. Unfortunately, the world is sort of dangerous for a little marsupial. This is especially so when she THINKS she's bigger than an elephant. She has no fear whatsoever. She dive-bombed our new dog, and he weighs a bit over 100 pounds at this point. Completely fearless, but I digress.

I have an old filing cabinet that really needs throwing away. I just haven't gotten around to emptying it out yet. The bottom drawer is broken. The top drawer had been left open a crack, and Phoebe got in. Somehow or another, she managed to get between the drawers, and fall down into the pit of the bottom, broken drawer. Gliders are incredible climbers, but they can't climb a frictionless surface. So she was stuck in the bottom of the filing cabinet. At first, I had no idea she was stuck. I figured she'd work her way out whenever she got bored. When she started barking for help, I finally figured out that she was in trouble.

Thus began a multi-hour ordeal. I had to figure out exactly where she was. If I pulled out the top drawer and she was between the rails, I could have easily smashed and killed her. The bottom drawer will not move unless subjected to extreme force. Again, not a good option. If she was in the wrong place when the drawer gave way, she would be killed. I was pretty freaked out. The hour was late, to say the least, and that did not help things a bit. I had no idea how to get her out of there, and I couldn't see into the cabinet to tell where I could tear into it without hurting her. I could hear her scratching wherever she heard me working. She would bark or squeak when I talked to her. If you knew her, you would know she was freaked out and wanted OUT, in a big way.

This went on for quite some time, with me running all kinds of scenarios in my head, trying to get an idea of exactly where she was so that I could get to her safely. Finally, I had a moment of clarity, and started taking the wooden filing cabinet apart piece by piece, from the top down. Little by little I took the thing apart, until I could reach her. This took quite awhile. I went slow, just to make sure she didn't get hurt.

Finally, I got to her. When I had excavated enough of the cabinet to reach her, she was curled up in a corner, just waiting. I stuck my head far enough in to see her, and found her looking right at me.

Maybe I read more into it than there was. Maybe I have a tendency to humanize these animals a bit too much. One way or the other, she seemed really happy to see me; but she didn't look a bit surprised that I dug her out. Her look seemed to say, "I knew you would get me out of there. I had faith in you." She was waiting quietly and calmly when I got to her. She hopped up when she saw me, jumped into my hands and raced to her normal perch on my shoulder. She made her little contented squeakings, which just about melted my heart on the spot.

Ultimately, these little animals rely on us for everything. Food, water, shelter, protection from the scary things out there in the world, they have to have us to give it to them when they are in captivity. I think she knows this. I think she had faith that I was going to get her out of there. She had more faith than I did, to say the least.

We brought these little animals into our home. When we did, we took on a obligation to take care of them. Obligations are hard to live up to, on occasion. Sometimes it's tough to stay up late and let them play. It's a pain in the rear to feed them and clean the cages. They can frustrate the living heck out of you at times. But we still have the duty to take care of them. We can't just abandon them, or let them starve to death. They deserve as good a life as I can give them, when they came under my roof. They became my responsibility. Ultimately, Phoebe had faith enough to know that I would try and help her.

The point I guess that I'm trying to make with all of this is: what kind of faith do we have? God created this world, and put us in it. There's scary and dangerous things in it. There's hard times to be had. There are times where we lose faith. With all the bad stuff that happens down here, it's hard to comprehend sometimes that God really is with us. He promised not to abandon us, and he would be there every step of the way.

Phoebe put her faith in me, her protector and provider. I brought her into this world, and took on responsibility for her welfare. I'm certain God has done the same thing with us. Except God actually HAS a plan to get us out of the proverbial filing cabinet. I was just winging it.

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