Friday, June 14, 2024

Parable of the Chipmunk

The local chipmuck population has discovered my screened porch. I am sure they knew it was here all along, but now they have discovered a way inside. To be accurate they found a way in and a way out. They have used these entrances and exits to run laps around the porch and occasionally take an excursion into the main part of our house when our living room door is open.  

I was sitting here on my screened porch this morning and saw a chipmunk run OUT of my living room and onto the porch. Not INTO the house, but OUT OF itWho knows how long he has been in the house? Minutes, hours, days? Perhaps he was visiting with the mice in our dining room. 

He ran out of the living room onto the porch and immediately exited through a hole in the screen and outside. So I closed the hole behind him with wood. A few minutes later he – or his identical twin – came through a hole in the opposite side of the porch, squeaked at me, and proceeded to run back outside again. I get the impression he is taunting me, or at least playing games with the big, clumsy human. 

So I closed that second hole using wood and a staple gun. Now I am waiting  with the staple gun in my hand to see if he finds another way in. I am ready this time. So far so good. As soon as I wrote these words another chipmuck (or the same one) got back in somehow and ran around my feet! How are they getting in?  

Now I am watching him to see how he gets out. Found it! But where did he come in? I thought all I had to worry about was insects getting onto the porch, but I obviously have bigger problems. After three amateurish patches, it looks like this is going to need a bigger fixIt is a good thing that my son is a carpenter. Sounds like a good Father’s Day project! 

My chipmunk problems remind me of spiritual problems. We tend to view our lives as closed systems which we try to fix. Financial problems? Money will fix it. Worries trouble our hearts. The solution? Plug the holes with the help of therapists or self-help gurus to keep them out. Distracting thoughts enter our minds during meditation or prayer or when we are trying to sleep? Keep them out with spiritual or mental techniques.  

Big problems like suffering and death? Use all the medical and pharmaceutical resources at our disposal to dispose of them. Supplement these with alternative therapies, all the while employing prayer for supernatural healing. If all else fails, we explain away suffering, disease and death as parts of the divine plan.  

All these strategies are like repairing the holes on my screened porch. The truth is that pesky critters are going to get in somehow eventually. New screens eventually result in new holes. We can repair the holes in our lives all we want, but the truth is that life cannot be permanently fixed. Pain and death happen.  

Human existence is not a problem to be solved. It is a reality to be lived here and now. It is a game to be played, a drama to be acted, a song to be sung, a dance to be danced. Do my chipmunks worry about medical or theological problems? Are they anxious about suffering and death? No, they just play the holy game of “in and out” with the dumb human, who takes it all too seriously. 

Jesus said something along those lines about the birds of the air and the lilies of field. He calls us, “you of little faith” and concludes, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life.... but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. All the rest will take care of itself.”  Good advice from the Author of life. 

1 comment:

Rene Thomas said...

Scat happens !!
Amen 😆