I don’t know when it started, this idea I want to talk about. It’s been quite some years gone when it came to me: There’s so much grief and pain in the world, I wonder if God ever stops weeping. Then, there’s me – one old man – and I want to lend a hand, but it’s hard to know where to start, and what to do.
So I came upon this concept: In my path. That’s it; that’s the whole philosophy. It makes a vast problem more manageable. If a needful person, animal or circumstance is set in my path, it becomes my responsibility to help; indeed, spiritually, I see it as my obligation to try. A small issue is carved out of the world’s woes, and set right in front of me.
But that’s the catch: It has to be a circumstance I can do something about in order for it to qualify as In My Path. For instance: a squirrel was killed by raccoons not long back; I found the body. I was sorry it happened, but the deed took place late at night; I wasn’t there; he wasn’t in my path, so there’s no sense I failed him. But today was a different story; today I failed.
It happened at an intersection you might have familiarity with – 419 at Cave Spring Corners. It was mid-day [you can imagine the traffic!]
I saw a squirrel – maybe a year old – on the highway, panic-stricken and darting this way and that trying to avoid traffic. Both lanes were full; stopped for the light. I signaled, then pulled into a biking lane which positioned me somewhat out of the traffic. I turned on my emergency flashers, checked behind me, and opened my door to go catch him, or herd him across four lanes to trees and safety. I was keenly aware how dangerous my expedition was.
The light changed; the cars started moving, and as I neared him, he was run over. I picked him up, but the little one had been crushed. That he had spent the last seconds of his live so terrified left me with a lingering despondency.
I laid his little body on the grass median. And yes, I said a little prayer, fool that I am. Like God didn’t know he was dead? Like God won’t take him back to Heaven and make him whole again? Like God needs me to emergently text Him about what happened? Didn’t make a damned bit of sense but I did it anyway.
I think the plains Indians had it right. When they killed an animal, they prayed not to the Great Spirit, but to the animal’s soul, apologizing for the act, and promising not to desecrate his body; promising to use it to sustain the tribe.
I feel the little one paid dearly for just getting lost. And yes, it might have been a foolish thing to try and help him, but I was obliged, you see. He was “in my path…”