the squirrel pelt
on bearing compassionate witness from all angles
For a hound dog, I suppose he’s slow.
After all, he almost never catches the critters he chases, and isn’t that sort of the whole point of possessing a genetic line bred for hunting? Once, he found a nest of bunny kits in the backyard. He tossed them around a bit and there were a few injuries sustained, but I got to them in time and, come on, that doesn’t even count as a hunt.
But this week he actually caught his prey, and so the squirrel carcass has become a begrudged part of our family’s life for the past few days: first in the front yard, where we resolved to leave it be; then after not insignificant deterioration, in the back, where we tried to ignore it; then finally on the doormat on the interior side of the sliding screen door in the sunroom, which is where we drew the line. At that point it was really only identifiable by the tail, and one of the foremost rules of this house is that decaying body parts are not allowed indoors.
(This was established a few months ago when someone — no one knows who — placed a perfectly intact deceased wren on the family altar, where it went unnoticed for days. No sign of corruption, no stench. But in the end we ruled against dead creatures in the house. Tough calls have to be made.)
My husband got a bucket and hand broom and removed the offensive pelt, disposing of it in some undisclosed location that I hope is far, far into the woods, past the point of the dog’s voracious nostril power.
Only the five-year-old batted an eye.
“Mommy,” he tugged on my shirt. “I feel sad. I feel sad that the squirrel died, and I feel sad that Thunder doesn’t get to keep the prize he was so proud of.”
(My kindergartener is now offering graduate level classes in non-dual thinking and cognitive integration. Contact me to make financial arrangements.)
Both things can be true.
Whatever your “both things” are. Whatever mine are — and oh, don’t I know mine.
Perhaps the work of being human comes down to resisting the urge to choose a side and instead bearing compassionate witness from all angles. We can do this, you know. We are capable of it. What would happen if we did?
This weekend finds me at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, where I will be co-presenting a breakout session on “Pop Culture as Resistance” with my friend and partner in crime Eric Clayton. I still can’t believe my role at NCR means I get to talk about Taylor Swift, justice, and religious imagination for a living. Wild.
It will be my first time at IFTJ, and I’m really looking forward to it. If your weekend is looking a little bare, you can check out the livestream for free here.
I hope autumn is as gorgeous wherever you are as it is right now in Iowa.
Until next week,