Monday, September 30, 2013

Is it curiosity or folly?

The other day I went over to Mom's farm. Pulling up between the garden and the house, I noticed that the Havahart® trap had a juvenile raccoon captured in it.

My mom has been waging war on the groundhogs. They've been burrowing under the sheds and ruining the old stone foundation to her farmhouse. So she has good reason to be concerned.

However, no one is usually around to watch the traps. My mom doesn't actually attend to the traps. My brother-in-law does. He lives over an hour away and doesn't always make a weekly trip.

A different bandit
I called Brother-in-law on my cell phone walking over towards the cage, "Did you set the trap?"

"No," he replied.

"Then who did?" I wondered aloud.

"Guess your Mom did before she left for work a few days ago", he responded.

The little raccoon was weak and shaking. He would try to do things with his paws, but the strength just wasn't there.

Bringing my attention back to Brother-in-law, I asked, "How do I spring this thing to let the little guy out?"

He tried to explain it to me, but I wasn't getting it. I simply depressed the solid piece that was sprung shut and pushed it down to let the youth out.

I have to be honest here. I was a little worried about what could happen as I handled the cage. Would he bite, scratch or turn on me once he got out?

Pushing down the trap door down, the little fellow took a few moments to turn around and gingerly moved forward towards the doorway. He took his time sniffing and figuring out what to do. He slowly moved past the hinged bottom and towards the garden. Then, he toddled through the tomatoes and up the hill into the thick weeds.

As I hung up from talking to Brother-in-law, I felt a little shaky myself. Would this little guy make it? He sure seemed weak, possibly hungry and dehydrated.

He's been on my mind since then.

I keep thinking about cautionary tales or saying like, "Curiosity killed the cat," or the story that I resonate with which is How the Elephant Got Its Trunk by Rudyard Kipling. The little elephant constantly gets into trouble for his curiosity and observations.

The trap was like a dead-end to nowhere with no way to get out. There was no nourishment or water. It might have been called Havahart®, but it in no way seemed to behave like having a heart when it traps animals and then starves them with neglect - not the intention of the manufacturer.

Perhaps I am still smarting from my own youthful ignorance in the same way as the little raccoon. But I have been playing with the word folly as I watch people blindly or mindlessly apply pat stories or answers or cliches to situations.

Then Sunday morning while at my Quaker meeting, a woman shared a message about a prisoner who cared for another much maligned prisoner under hospice care.  The nurse encouraged the care giving prisoner to help the difficult person and find the capacity to build a friendship. She described the story as inspirational and the heart of spiritual work.

At the same time she raptly sang about the healing power of love - which I am a believer in, too, I was aware of a another Quaker meeting mired in craziness for the past seven years with a man who actively promotes hate of all kinds of religions and ethnicities on his personal website. This meeting has what a friend of mine calls Kumbaya thinking - that if we just love someone enough, they will change. Meanwhile, people who can no longer tolerate the pain of this man's actions simply have left the meeting and possibly the Quaker community altogether.

"Good for them," I say. I'm finding that I like what passes for sanity these days.

This might seem like a stretch, but I was feeling as if some of my Quaker Friends are lost in a have-a-heart cage without proper food or water and a little delusional... and they can't tell the difference between what is nourishing and what is debilitating because they can still see out of the cage, or, maybe they are trapped and are stuck.

Recently someone was telling me that they learned a powerful lesson about limits: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Just because Quakers can take the spiritual bait, doesn't mean they should tie up years of engaging with someone not interested in love or life or compassion.

To be sure, not all Quaker meetings have such poor boundaries or spiritual arrogance. However, the crazy making aspect some meetings have has the energy or feeling tone of folly. What a waste of energy.

The trap door opens: Little raccoon finds his way out.

Will the troubled Quaker meeting and all confounded religious groups be so lucky? Don't know, except I need to turn this over to what the 12-steppers call their Higher Power.