Many of my rural neighbours would be shocked to find out that when I came across a nest of little field mice, I let them go. And, it’s not because I’m squeamish – I’m a natural-born killer when it comes to vermin on our property – but, on this one sunny day in fall, the situation seemed different.
Maybe, it was the way the mother scurried around, despite being exposed, gathering her wee frightened mouse-babies to herself – with no thought for her own safety. She consoled her little family… licking them and reassuring them … almost as if she wasn’t fully aware of my presence and the danger I represented to her family. Cornered, they had no way out.
Amazed by her courage, I admired her single sense of purpose.
But letting them go in the forest, doesn’t free her from her duties.
“The woods are full of danger. But the bear mouse must find food. If she does not, her hungry babies will die.” – from Bear Mouse’ by Berniece Freschet
I know it sounds strange, but just then I thought of our own family situation: empty nesters, we’re stunned by how fast life has gone by. Where once there were school buses to catch and horse riding lessons to keep, where are they now? Or, what happened to those band practices with so much hope of “making it” in the music biz, and martial arts moves by a little man who wanted and eventually got his black belt. Having gone through teenage angst, they’re all gone – having new secure family units of their own… which, as parents, is as good as it gets. Yet, I’m both happy and sad that time has moved us all along.
Maybe at a different time, on a different day, I might have thought differently, but as I looked down on that little mother mouse and her tiny brood – she was such a good mom – and I figured, you can’t have too many good moms, right?
Objectively, I realize that it’s all part of nature’s way – just another day in the food chain of life. Thankfully our lives are richer than that of a mouse, yet we can learn from nature, too. Animals act and re-act the way they do because they have no choice; we’re given freewill, and so, have choices. We can choose to live with faith or fear. And, if we want to live free of fear, there’s actually only one choice. It’s not pre-programmed; it’s self-programmed.
“Pools of sorrow, waves of joy, are drifting through my open mind”
— Across the Universe by the Beatles
To help us better appreciate this life process, there’s a story told of a ship departing from a harbour – with people watching it until it finally sails out of sight. Does it mean it’s gone? No! Others are watching that same ship (just a speck on the new horizon), slowly coming into view… safely to a new harbour.