A Squirrel Tale (by David Brown)

Here’s a story from a pastor friend of mine.  We both enjoy watching squirrels, though I can’t say I enjoy reading about raising chickens.  Enjoy!

I was sitting on the outdoor patio of a great little coffee shop in the Swede Hollow neighborhood of St Paul yesterday.  I was waiting for a phone call from a pastor in FL who is going to be planting house churches.  I was reading about raising chickens.

I looked up from my book to see a squirrel scooting down the trunk of a huge elm tree.  The squirrel looked kind of odd and took a second for me to recognize that it’s tail was missing!  A tail-less squirrel.  I didn’t really track where the squirrel was going or what it did after it got off that tree, but i have been thinking about the problems this squirrel must have.

Squirrels use their tails for balance as they are climbing, jumping from tree to tree, and even scampering on the ground.  Pretty amazing to think that this squirrel is still alive if he/she has made any efforts of jumping from one tree to the next.  I can picture the poor squirrel jumping from the tree limb to the electric wires below, kind of wobbling on take off, going into a bit of a “tail” (or “lack of a tail”) spin and landing on the transformer rather than the wire…oops!  Sizzle.  Balance is life and death for a squirrel, but this one just doesn’t have it.

The squirrel also uses it’s tail as a parachute if it should fall.  Again, in the scenario above, assuming it missed the transformer and wire, we can picture the squirrel brain sending a signal to the tail…”Deploy!  Deploy parachute!  Deploy!”  And unfortunately, there is no parachute…and 30 or 4o feet later…SMACK! on the pavement.

Squirrels also use their tail to communicate with other squirrels.  We have all seen this.  Squirrels tails moving in all directions…stopping…starting again.  I would guess that one of the signals is “danger approaching”!  Human getting too close.  Cat!  Dog!  Of course, if our tail-less squirrel is on point there will be no danger signal and kitty cat gets a meal.  It will only take the loss of sister or brother squirrel to get the tail-less one fired from that job, and most likely ostracized from the rest of the squirrel family.  Communication is important and without the tail…I think you end up with a loner squirrel.

I won’t even mention this poor squirrel’s inability to attract a mate…oh…i just did.

Anyway, such are thoughts on a sunny afternoon with a good cup of coffee waiting for a phone call.

Of course, I got to thinking further.  Balance for us is a matter of life and death.  Unfortunately, we take it for granted.  Often, we are not aware we are “out of balance” until we take a “normal” leap that we have taken many times before and end up getting fried…or going splat on the concrete of the busy-ness of our lives.  Fortunately it is almost always a wake-up call for us to get our priorities right.  To go back to that balance of life that gives health and hope.

There is also a lesson for us to pay attention to the other squirrels in our tribe who might be warning us that we are “tail-less”, that our lives are out of whack, that we are climbing the wrong tree, gathering the wrong nuts, walking the wrong electric wire.  When we shut down vital, real communication with those around us we are isolating ourselves spiritually and emotionally and heading for trouble.

Funny thing is that we listen less to those around us the more we are out of balance.  As we have seen, it is a recipe for disaster.

I want to encourage you today to take a few moments to truly reflect on how your life:
Are you in balance?
Do you have a good rhythm going?
Have you learned from your latest crashes?
Are you willing to ask your close friends and family to give you an honest assessment of how they see your life?
I think you will be blessed if you do.

Have a great weekend.  And keep your tail on.

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