The Family of Things
(AHeart Story in Three Parts)
I drove to the lakeshore today and it was hugely pretty and scenic. It was freezing today. Icy rain. I froze without gloves. Spring is funny here in Canada. But truly beautiful at the same time.
I went to a children’s bookstore to buy some gifts. It was icy rain and it didn’t matter. It was freezing and chilly and it didn’t matter either. Looking out, a warmth filled the bones. I told the scene I’d be back soon to say hello. I hoped it would wait for me.
I had whiled away hours. Storybooks for little ones can do that for me. And to my great surprise, the great storybook in outside space was honorable and considerate. It still waited for me.
The landscape was stellar, and so was the sky. It had hugged in the morning and the wash of the sky of an ethereal incandescence was the same for the afternoon. The pinks went lavender and the pinks went yellow, and in other spaces the hazy whiteness swirled to a glow and softened into tufts of a gentle blue-green. I could see rainbows forming. It had the breath go still.
Out there and beyond the lakeshore, there is this great space open to everyone called “the family of things”, and it can fill you with awe to stand in the blessed newness of so much sweet mystery quietly unfolding, and slowly being born. It was here that I thankfully stood admiring the expanse of friendship between lake and ice, tree and sky, and tree to tree like tiny sailboats forming. So many faces and new hearts to welcome, and the world can go beautiful like their breathing, too. A bend of harp strings seemed to move in the willow tree, and the sound of the wind emitted a barely audible note. It was like a pin drop of gentle joy. I heard a prayer, and felt it. Hope and gratitude is a very pretty and quietly grand sound.
Nature is a classroom, and something as tiny and easily forgotten as a mouse can as much certainly be a teacher. When you stand before Nature, and appreciate it, your heart wells to a space of satisfying favor. You can offer more to others with greater love. This is what happens when you open your heart to things beyond yourself and transcend emotion. This is what happens when you cooperate with Nature instead of dominate it. Respect is a common language that is universal to everything.
We become richer in our hearts and fuller beings who become meritorious in our doings when we can hug and connect to something of Nature and thank it for its beauty and strength. Spring is here. Lots is being born. It is a world of Belonging. Let’s enjoy her classroom.
The Mouse Teacher
Once, I had mice visitors for several months, and I soon came to understand their fate. I didn’t want them exterminated.
What could I do to better lead the way in such a challenge? My head stirred with thought of Cinderella’s helpful saviours who hastened her home to midnight, of Desperaux and Algernon, of Tumtum and Nutmeg and Ralph S. Mouse, of the wise and indomitable Stuart Little, and all the brave, kindly mice folk who I befriended in stories as a child and whose acts of a selfless courage served to heal and open something of good in my heart. All of my storybook friends, I learned as a child, would never choose panic in a crisis. So, I called on a human friend of mine who is my teacher of sorts in the face of quixotic challenges. I called him because he is calming and comic, and because I know he is a good friend to mice.
Speak to the mice. Ask them to go. See if they listen, my teacher said. Seriously? I asked. Seriously, he said, and try it out with heartfelt love. But what do I say?, I said. I don’t want to scare them or mess things up. Just ask them and they will get the picture when they understand your intention. Whatever you do, do it sincerely and without any anxiety. And no, it’s not crazy, he added, before I could even ask.
So I did all this in a friendly voice that is without sound, meaning with a plea of an unconditional askance carried like a star-bright postman messenger from my heart to theirs. I did this with a gently moving heart that was now far removed from any anticipation of horrors or specifics. I did this because my teacher put me to the test; and as a life student, I want to succeed.
Indeed, it is true that I imaginatively communed my wishes to the mice one bright, chilly April afternoon while sitting in a square of sun on my bed. I wished them a long life of happiness and that they avail themselves of their present lodgings within the next three days to ensure this. And yes, life is strange and it may have appeared strange were someone to have walked into the room; but I did not find it strange to enter this universal space “of a common shared language between all things created”, and I would feel it stranger had I estranged myself to their plight and sat back and let them all be exterminated. As crazy as it all sounded, it would have been crazier to me had I not given things for a good beyond myself and from my heart a try.
My pup who looked on was himself as quiet as a mouse. This helped me to sit quietly “in” my heart all the more, and as I did, I indeed “felt” something. Somehow this vibration had a color and weight inside my heart. The vibration had a language and this language had a sound, and it could be understood in my dog’s heart and mine to the mouse heart without a translator. Even the trees outside understood it. My eyes were focused on some sunbeams, and I saw Theo’s one ear perk gently back.
That night, I heard a great commotion in the walls. It transfixed. It was far greater a ruckus than nights before. Theo slept beside me, and I noticed that his nose was fluttering and that his front paw was twitching as some great escape was carrying on. I wondered if he was feeling the mice antics in his dream.
“Sorry for all the disturbance, dear Neighbor”, squeaked one mouse protector. “My sister just had babies and we just have needed time.” This is what my heart “thought” it heard. There was more quiet and the refrain in these quickstep mouse beats repeated.
My heart smiled to this sweet news in the dark. — Congratulations to you. How exciting. — The walls and the dark grew so hush that somewhere in my heart I imagined a mouse row of perfectly upright linesmen standing behind the wall that separated us. I then heard a little quick galumphing of one mouse or two rushing back and forth and stopping by the radiator. — And would you mind making sure you tell your mouse friends occupying other houses not to come here either?, my heart speak gently added. Because I don’t want anyone hurt. Something vague like a little brush of a falling leaf rested into my heart: “Thank you for telling us. We shall.” And before I could even compose another thought past my delight, I fell fast asleep.
Whether or not any of what I share actually happened, this was the outcome: There was plenty of scrambling and squeaking and clambering for the next three nights. It was like an exodus. Before bed, I continued to wish them well and to root for these artful gymnasts and encourage their success. So much scampering and activity. Were they taking all their furniture? I will never know but by day four, the scratching completely stopped. Not a pin drop. In no uncertain terms, it was clear that this mouse family had packed their bags, aborted their family playpen, left the little fluffs of dust they had transformed into downy blankets for the new babies, bundled up the newcomers as quickly as they could, and embarked for a new home in a safer corner of the world.
Before it all ended, there was a long note of quietude followed by what seemed to be the thankful piping of about eight squeak voices. Theo wagged his tail. Whatever it was, the notable mid-morning sound carried a feeling that stitched a loving, pregnant pause of appreciation from the natural world to my heart. It was beautiful. It felt sweet, heart-rich and peaceful, as if we all said to each other, Be well. I myself could not believe it.
Well, actually the first time, my first request didn’t go anywhere. Zero response. I was frustrated about it. Did they care? So my teacher said, You have to ask in a friendly voice and without any anxiety. Be calm, and be unconditional about your request. No demanding. Then see what happens. At the second try, and the more I worked beyond my doubts, the more I connected to The Great Nature, that is to say to a world beyond my own comforts, and to something of a greater love.
They were peaceful, nice mice. I felt a lot of love for their family. And why wouldn’t this be? The Family of Things is the same everywhere. The natural world is a prism of family just like mine. It was amazing to me how much understanding and ease flowed back to my heart through a calm acknowledgement of each other and our different situations. It really didn’t matter we are of a different species. No matter the type of family, every family has the same loving and caring needs. I guess it’s because all energy matter comes from a similar Source.
Curiously, my downstairs neighbor had a sudden change of heart by the Tuesday, and cancelled the exterminator and any follow-up contract. A mouse party never met me again in that apartment nor in any dwelling in which I have resided since. I still thank those mice, and think of them when I admire my garden, or appreciate the wildlife that visit, or talk to the flowers around my home. A part of me still wonders how they are doing.
Photography by Marina Mashaal