How can a dead squirrel teach, asked Doug when I handed him a copy for review?
Picture a squirrel jumping from limb to limb in the trees high above, searching for food. The limbs bend, yet support the weight of the daredevil who does was he was created to do. When they miscalculate the strength of the limb or the distance, if the earth is their cushion, they may survive; if a cement sidewalk cushions the fall, they will not. On our Saturday morning walk, we saw such a critter. It was still there this morning, four days later – four days of 106+ heat, and warm nights.
How could the homeowner not know? Still, I felt great reluctance to ring the doorbell and point out the problem – it wasn’t, after all, their fault.
“Hello. You don’t know me, but on your sidewalk, the four-day old remains of a squirrel upset me. Please do something about it! ”
Maybe it would go better if I prepared myself and asked to help them?
“Hello. You don’t know me, but I am a neighbor. You may not have noticed it, but a dead squirrel is littering your sidewalk. I have a shovel and a bag, and together, perhaps we can clear it away?”
Sliding of courage, alas, I called the city and requested its removal. They will “check it out.” Out little town is good about keeping its sidewalks tidy.
Reflecting on the fate of the over-bold squirrel, I think of the risks I am tempted to often take in relationships and their potentially disastrous consequences:
· Speaking my mind before engaging my brain. (Proverbs 17:27-28)
· Repeating what is neither edifying, substantiated nor useful.
We take similar risks in the church – sometimes imitating or indulging the world’s bad habits. We do what we want to do, say what we should not, and too often – immortalize it all in e-mail, copying in “allies!”
However, this morning’s adventures, conversations, -- the imaginary ones and the real, reinforce my hope in resolving conflicts with folks I love:
· Misunderstandings happen for reasons wholly outside my control – like that squirrel that fell from the tree Saturday morning.
· I mustn’t let them lead to broken relationships; they are as ugly to see as a decaying remains – and often as unhealthy.
· Sometimes I can’t easily clean them up – that “cleanup” depends on getting others involved.
· If I can’t overlook a problem, prepare myself and do something. If I can’t face the person because of I am anxious or self-conscious, ask for help.
I called folks whose reputation for cleanup and disposals is reliable. My prayer for the church is that as we put ourselves in God’s hands, and use His word, we will be trust-worthy and reliable helpers who restore what sinful men and women can break.