March 24, 2016

The Least of These


"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:40

The breeze whispers through open windows on a clear summer day. It carries with it the aroma of freshly cut grass and the lawn mower’s steady drone as my husband paces back and forth, following our backyard’s perimeter.

The drone abruptly stops. In minutes he appears at the back door.

Get out here NOW, he shout-whispers. I race outside following where he leads, praying we’re not looking for detached toe in the grass.

There were no toes, just bunnies.

We coo and fight back every urge to pick up the baby bunnies because we know their mumma will return for them. And she did. Thirty minutes later, they were gone.

*********************

The skies are purplish gray. Scattered spots of orange promise sunshine’s return after the afternoon’s violent windstorm. Sidewalks are littered with snapped branches too weak to cling to their mother trees; and my husband goes out to rake them curbside, each scrape of concrete breaking the eerie silence of the storm’s afterglow.

The scraping abruptly stops. In minutes, he shout-whispers in the front door. Get out here NOW.

This time, I don’t worry about detached toes. He leads, I follow, and he points to the small and hairless baby squirrel siblings, probably blown out of their nest during the storm.

We place them in a makeshift NICU made of Tupperware so they can warm each other.
We station it at the home tree’s base where their mumma can get them. And she did. She scampered down, grabbed a baby, then scampered up, then back down, grabbed another and so on until the NICU was empty.


*********************

That’s a person. Why is she there?
It's past midnight on a subzero night when we see an elderly woman standing motionless behind a parked car. She's wearing a spring coat, is gloveless and her head is protected only by a kerchief.

We stop our car and I get out to talk to her. She isn’t an English speaker, but we know she’s disoriented.

We know her mumma isn’t coming for her.

We bring her in our house and out of the cold, call the police and they help her get back home.

*********************

HELP! HELP!
First it was a scream in my dream, but soon it cuts through my sleep and startles me awake. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I sprint to the living room and blink back the sleep crud to see my husband at the front door.

He’s startled, speaking – questioning loudly to the person – a woman about my age -- who screamed for help.

She says she's having a seizure. Call 911.

I call and he interrupts my conversation with the dispatcher: She’s unconscious.

EMT’s are dispatched. I wait for help with her as she lays unconscious on our threshold. I hear her take short breaths. I know her mumma isn’t coming.

*********************
With so much going on in the world -- in my own community -- so often I wonder What can I do? How can my voice matter? Should I be protesting? Should I be volunteering?

How should I be giving more than I take out of this life?

Then I remember the bunnies on that sunny day, the squirrel siblings after the storm, the immigrant elderly lady in the polar vortex’s grip and the woman – my peer -- who literally showed up on my doorstep.

Of all the backyards, front yards and porches on our block, it was ours they all found and we helped in whatever small way we could.

Maybe part of the answers to my wondering can be found in all of them -- brothers, sisters -- even animals -- in the least of these.

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