Saturday, November 26, 2011

Battles

Ferret care for a friend was on our list of Black Friday tasks. We brought Matt and his wife Karissa to visit the ferret with us. The ferret can ooze his long agile body through a space approximately 5 nanometers wide. Thus, it was no surprise to see the ferret, Leo, had escaped from his cage through a broken wire. He had had a heyday while the folks were away. The rabbit in a nearby cage had been terrorized- we could tell that by the spray of rabbit food all over the living room.  Then Leo had ripped open the ferret food bag and tossed it like confetti where the rabbit food hadn't quite reached. Next, he seems to have hopped the enclosure to the rest of the house, chewed up some small rubber things, and then decided the world was now his toilet. Little poop piles were scattered about like land mines. Not satisfied with the horror his family would feel upon returning to this mess, he had gotten in the potted plant and spewed dirt like projectile vomit all over that corner of the room. The strange thing is that unlike a dog, when we glared at him, he didn't look like he felt at all guilty.

Nonetheless, Karissa loved the ferret and wrapped him around her neck. She admitted she loves fur, but had made a pact with herself never to buy fur with a face. While holding the ferret, he went totally limp in her hands and fell fast asleep. I think there is a ferret in my son Matt's future.

What to do about the escape route? We rummaged in our friend's garage which is filled with tools, but not a thing that looked like it could fix the cage. Asherel finally found hose clamps which we unscrewed and straightend. Then clever Karissa spotted metal cooking spoons with long metal handles. We couldn't use duct tape or plastic or ties because Leo would chew through them. However, Karissa wedged the metal spoons securely in the bars, covering the gap and used the straightened hose clamps to criss-cross over the spoons and doubly insure they would stay put.

We returned that night with Arvo and a bag of tools,wire, clamps to make a more permanent fix, fully expecting the same catastrophe to meet our eyes. But Leo was asleep, the trap still secured. And a pile of poop inside the cage right near our fix confirmed that he had likely attempted escape and failed. Arvo decided the spoon fix was better than anything else we could have devised, so we left it. We had a nice visit with Leo and Bunny, and headed home victorious. In the battle of wits, we had beat a ferret. It is surprising how satisfying that was.

There are never ending battles in life. The battle to choose wisely, overcome greed, overcome pride, overcome anger, demonstrate compassion, give generously, love unreservedly, conquer illness, overcome the siren call of a 5 pound bag of gummy worms... The list goes on and on and on. Sometimes defeat pummels us far too often and victory seems to be only a dream others manage to grasp. We seem to fall short again and again.

I love the Psalms. I love them because the psalmists were realists. They were repeatedly felled by defeat, often the result of their own sin. They experienced and wrote about all the despair that continual failure wraps around even the strongest psyche. But the overwhelming message is that if they could manage to cling to God, however feebly through it all, they would ultimately taste victory. They recognized that their own efforts could only get them so far. With relief, they understood that their struggle was not just observed by an indifferent cosmic spectator, but was joined by a God who longed to help them. God did not always or even usually remove the battle, but He stood with them in the fray. And no matter the outcome, He would be able to gather their remains and lift them to a place of rest. They could curl around His presence, secure and confident that His solutions were the only ones worth having.

Leo burrowed under a blanket in his cage as we closed the cage door. He squirmed under his warm cave for a moment and then all was still. He was already asleep as we tiptoed out.

Proverbs 21: 30-31
30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
   that can succeed against the LORD.
 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
   but victory rests with the LORD.

Psalm 84: 1-3
  1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
   LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

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