I found a shivering, half submerged mouse in my toilet bowl today. From the look of things, I’m guessing it had been there for an hour or two. It probably had struggled futilely to scramble out, and then given up, too scared and cold to keep fighting.
I pulled it out with a container and patted it gently with a towel, trying to dry its soaked, matted fur. I sat with it and tried to comfort it as best as I could. Then I put the mouse in a small box with my heating pad and some towels. The mouse curled up with dim eyes, like the life essence was leaving its tiny little body.
About an hour later, I opened the box, and the mouse scurried under the heating pad. Further investigation revealed that it had dried off and I could see the Light of Life in its eyes once more. I took the box outside (away from the house!) and the mouse scampered hurriedly away.
I don’t know if the mouse will survive, but I do know that nothing deserves to die alone and cold in a toilet bowl.
An hour or two after the mouse episode, I was watching some wild turkeys in my yard. They had been there for hours, and a few of them were laying down in some dried leaves by the edge of my yard while the others foraged for food.
The turkeys come through the yard pretty much every day. There used to be thirteen, but I only counted eleven today. Furthermore, I noticed that one had sustained an injury and was hopping lamely on one leg. My guess is that a predator took a couple of the birds, and that the injured one had narrowly escaped.
I felt sad watching the injured turkey, because I know that in all likelihood, it won’t survive. I watched it foraging, and I held a deep love and appreciation for it, its beauty, and the knowledge that it will become sustenance for another living creature.
As someone who is involved with wildlife rehabilitation, it can be hard to know when to step in, and when to let nature take its course. Did I have an urge to help that turkey? Of course. Why did I help the mouse and not the turkey? Well, for one thing, I probably couldn’t catch that turkey even if I tried, and it probably would have done more damage than good anyway.
I know I can’t save everything. I have seen and will continue to see animals suffer and die. It is painful, especially when it is the result of human activity (e.g., when an animal is hit by a car). Yet, it is also poignant, and in Nature, nothing ever goes to waste.
It is my Life’s Work to strive to honor and respect all living things. In a human-centric world, I feel a personal calling to rejoice in the value and sacredness of our fellow living beings. All living things have significance and play an important role in the great web of life.
I’ve been having a lazy day today, and found myself feeling guilty for not accomplishing more. But then I thought to myself, “I saved a life today.” Today, I looked into the eyes of another living creature, and saw the gift of life. Today, I watched butterflies feed on miraculous garden blooms and listened appreciatively to the wind in the trees. Today, I felt the preciousness of each moment as I watched a flock of turkeys. Maybe that’s enough.