What’s the Name of Your Squirrel?

Take a good look at that cute squirrel. Yesterday while enjoying quiet moments, I glanced over to my neighbor’s just budding tree which stands next to her second-floor patio. In plain sight sat that “cute” squirrel (or a close relative) perched on a branch. A birdfeeder sits at the edge of the patio and during these early days of spring, birds are plentiful. We love watching the chickadees and finches darting to our own feeder just off our dining room window.

But yesterday there was all out war in the neighborhood. Birds swooped toward the feeder and, as quick as lightning, Enemy Squirrel would leap from his perch toward them. He knew no fear, jumping to and from branches that seemed too fragile to bear his weight. This went on for over fifteen minutes as my temper rose at the antics—no, that’s too mild a term—at the battle plan of the squirrel.

But, you may ask, was the squirrel merely defending his own source of food and his action thereby a natural example of survival of the fittest? Your attitude could be admired if our neighbor had not positioned the feeder in such a way to prevent such intrusion. There was no possible way for Mr. Squirrel—I’ve temporarily awarded him grace by upgrading him from Enemy Squirrel—to reach the birdseed. He was merely enacting his predatory instincts. With seeming glee.

You might think that current stay-at-home, be-masked-and-gloved orders have affected my mind to a dangerous degree (and perhaps they have!), but as the squirrel vs. bird scenario played out, I thought of another set of circumstances. I am one of the birds and the squirrel is Enemy Covid-19. (Or the “other” enemy? That one called the “prince of the power of the air”?) I dart each morning to the feeder of God’s Word. I quiet my spirit in prayer. I talk with my Good Shepherd about sheep both near and far, the ones I love and the nameless ones who enter my mind and heart. I entrust them into his care.

Within moments of being in that safe and quiet place, I sense the relentless attack of my own squirrel. Mine is variously named fear, worry, discouragement, impatience, depression.  Food and drink from the Spirit seem to have been snatched away. Anger edges in where peace lived just moments before.

As the day wore on, I occasionally glanced toward that tree. I’m not sure where the squirrel went, but the birds had peacefully resumed darting consistently toward the feeder. They know their survival depends on a steady diet. Enemies abound but built into birds’ tiny bodies is this enemy-evading instinct to feed and thrive.

What’s the name of your squirrel? When I put a name to the squirrel, even the one on the nearby tree, his power seems diminished as I compare him to the only One who offers spiritual, life giving food. The squirrel is just a squirrel.

The Father’s feeder is full: I am the bread of life…feed on me…dwell in me…think on these things…peace I leave you, my peace I give to you…no one can snatch you out of my hand…don’t let your heart be troubled…love one another… By feeding I not only exist to live another day. Like the birds, I live to freely fly and sing to others of the Father’s love and care.

Don’t let a squirrel steal your peace.

Silent Wednesday

Have you walked with Jesus this week? What paths have you taken? What signposts have you seen along the way? Have they directed you toward or away from Jesus?

As CNN, HUFFPOST, FOX, MSNBC, NPR (take your pick—and note they’re all in capitals) bombard us with Covid-19 statistics, opinions, news, and graphic pictures, it’s easy to slip on the gravel called fear and lose our footing. Or even choose the wide path offered by the pundits—some wise, others not so—instead of the narrow one carved out by Jesus.

Here it is the middle of Passion Week. Easter Monday and the celebration parade is over, palm branches have wilted and cloaks still smell of dust. Jesus dons the robe of an Old Testament prophet while ejecting Temple money changers. Fig trees and teaching highlight Tuesday. And now it’s Wednesday.

Most scholars believe that on this day Jesus rested. Simply rested. Away from the clamor of gathering festival crowds and plotting enemies. It’s also likely that on this day Jesus, dining in the Bethany home of one called Simon the Leper, accepts the sacrificial adoration of a woman who—according to Jesus’ own words—would be “remembered throughout the world wherever the gospel is preached.”

A woman. A woman who audaciously, counterculturally interrupts the appropriate, the conventional. Who was she? Why her action? Some texts indicate she was a “sinful” woman while others clearly state it was Mary of Bethany. Nard in an alabaster bottle? Perfume worth a year’s wages? Where did she get it? Was its intended use an investment for her future?

What strikes me is not only Jesus’ gracious acceptance of her adoration but how he transforms it into an act of extraordinary understanding of Jesus as king, priest, and savior. Women traditionally did not have such spiritual understanding but this woman crashes into the culture to anoint the one she loved, the one—she somehow comprehended—would soon die.

And to make the day complete: the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Walk today on this path with Jesus. For quiet moments, turn off, tune out blaring media. Rest with him as you imagine him resting with his friends. Inhale the fragrance of the perfume. Tomorrow you will hear him offer to wash your feet. You will grieve over Judas’ betrayal. You may misunderstand like Peter or nestle close like John. But today, just rest. Know the nearness of his presence. Hear that he loves you. Inhale adoration’s aroma.

Just rest.



Picture: Extravagant Love by providencefineart.com