Our cat, Boris, brought me a present yesterday afternoon -- the tiny fledgling sparrow pictured above. Of course it was Sunday (all animal disasters happen when the vet's office is closed), and I couldn't find a nest anywhere nearby to return it to. Thankfully the little guy appeared unharmed though, so I bought some baby bird formula and did my best to nurse him (her?) overnight. We somehow made it through the night, but the bird really didn't look too cute with all the goo stuck to its head from my amateur feeding attempts.
Last week Boris brought home fleas. (Remember how much I hate bugs?) Of course he was generous enough to share these with Natasha, our dog. Our other kitty, Blaze, did her part by not only becoming flea infested but also suddenly deciding she would no longer poop in the litter box. So, after spending hundreds of dollars on flea sprays, carpet cleaners, new bedding, a pet psychologist and vet bills last week, I was truly not in the mood to deal with another animal situation today.
No one wanted my little bird.
The vet refused to see her, and our local wildlife rescue center also rejected her for being too common a bird.
Whatever happened to that biblical belief that there is value in even the smallest sparrow?
Finally one of the women at the center kindly imagined she saw small tufts of feathers on the sides of my little bird's head (beneath all the bird formula goo plastering its feathers down in a slicked back 'do) that might possibly indicate it was a finch after all (and thus endangered). Her co-worker reluctantly agreed to take her after tossing me a pamphlet about what a bad cat parent I am for letting my kitty outside. (Don't worry; he's on house arrest now.)
So what does any of this have to do with this blog? You may have noticed that I've taken some time off from blogging after my last post concerning some of my fears about possibly being under surveillance for receiving disability benefits. However, after a full week of dealing with fleas, cat poop, and unpredictable animal rescues, I'm tired of being afraid and am finally starting to realize that I simply do not have control over everything.
Or anything, for that matter.
Maybe I am being watched. Perhaps I'll never be able to work as a lawyer again; I might end up in a wheelchair despite all my years of denial. I might lose everything tomorrow. Or I might win the lottery and retire on my own tropical island.
Or I might not.
I just don't know.
And I want to be okay with not knowing; I want to stop being such a control freak.
According to American Buddhist author and nun, Pema Chödrön, when things fall apart in our lives we tend to spend all of our time and energy trying to create some ground to stand on, even though life is essentially a groundless situation; there simply is no such thing as permanence or security. She describes a state called Skandha mara which is how humans react when the rug is pulled out from under us:
We feel that we have lost everything that's good. We've been thrown out of the nest. We sail through space without a clue as to what's going to happen next. We're in no-man's-land: we had it all together, working nicely, when suddenly the atomic bomb dropped and shattered our world into a million pieces. ...
Then we re-create ourselves. We return to the solid ground of our self-concept as quickly as possible. ... [W]e've been given this great opportunity. However, we don't trust our basic wisdom mind enough to let it stay like that. Our habitual reaction is to want to get ourselves back -- even our anger, resentment, fear, or bewilderment. So we re-create our solid, immovable personality as if we were Michelangelo chiseling ourselves out of marble.
Instead of a tragedy or melodrama, this mara is more like a situation comedy. Just as we are on the verge of really understanding something, allowing our heart to truly open, just as we have the opportunity to see clearly, we put on a Groucho Marx mask with fluffy eyebrows and a big nose. Then we refuse to laugh or let go, because we might discover -- who knows what?
So I've learned this week that a few fleas in the house or stains on the carpet are truly not the end of the world; there is even a humorous element when I learn to laugh at myself. And I think about that poor little sparrow being whisked away from its mother's care by a giant black cat, and cannot help but wonder how I would hold up under that amount of stress. Probably nowhere near as gracefully as that little bird.
So I hope my "endangered" sparrow is being well taken care of at the rescue center. And by the way, here's that biblical quote about sparrows:
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
(St Matthew, 10. 29.)
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After suffering a loss in your life, have you ever found yourself frantically trying to recreate exactly what you just lost? Do you see loss as an opportunity for growth? And how do you feel about the little sparrow? Should it be afraid? Should we??