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“This is more than I can handle,” said the floor nurse looking down at me, her meaty arms drawing me toward her full bosom, her faded scrubs suggesting years of experience. “Let’s call upon the Lord. He’ll help us get what you need for that pain.” Her words wrapped soothing compresses around psychic wounds and multiple fractures, caused by tripping over my vacuum cleaner. My body felt like a ruined city. This occurred in June 2017.

The compassion of that floor nurse opened me to an enfleshed Sacred moment that companied my terror, one of several spaced through my long life. Such experiences, then and now, afford me a lens through which to view Creator God’s involvement with us, moment by moment, as Ukraine’s nightmare stokes global angst and analysis.

Within the carnage, within towns fed into shredders, within the resolve of two million Ukrainian emigrants, within the Russian “slow down,” appears the age-old conflict between good and evil: It’s always been there, re-forming planet Earth’s landscape and history. Throttled nations still rebuild upon ashes of grief; individuals regroup; work start-ups abound until some normalcy appears—for however long.

Yet, despite restored cities—Old Town Munich is one example—the seven deadly sins still hide out in psyches, fomenting irritation, restlessness, and discontent. Power becomes god and governments become inflated and armed conflict ensues. Between 1946 and 2012, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program has recorded thirty-two such conflicts, with deaths, around the world, as found in the Journal of Peace Research.

Still, Creator God’s compassion for the work of his hands promotes healing and restoration for everyone who wishes. The global prayer for Ukraine intensifies. I repeat again: What’s really behind the Russian “slow-down?” 

Winter’s lethal touch seems not to disquiet this gray squirrel, seen digging in my back yard, presumably for seeds hidden during warmer climes.

Other eyes, from centuries past, have drawn inspiration from the squirrel’s activities: the Osage Native Americans who roamed these hills. Their surroundings offered food, aplenty, but had to be hunted, cultivated, harvested, preserved, and hidden away from poachers, other Indians or settlers. Survival from fickle weather, for both Indians and animals, was the communal goal.

The Osage perceived all living creatures as gifts from Mother Earth with whom they were inextricably bound. Squirrels were notable for their preparedness, sociableness, industry, and foraging for seeds and nuts, their presence by aggressive and noisome chatter. Identifying with their spirit quickened their own in the midst of daily hardship. 

Even in dire straits, the Osage were reluctant to feed off the squirrel, but did so if critical for survival, with thanksgiving to Mother Earth.

In my perception, the Osage’s proximity to squirrels and all living creatures interfaced with their imaginative story-telling; its rich oral tradition afforded ultimate meaning to their lives. From these depths emerged their legends and sacred rituals; images of squirrels on totem poles.

They knew who protected and guided them.

This quote from Arundhati Roy, an Indian author, actress, and political activist, prompted me to share it with others:

“What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself, it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus.

“It has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to normalcy, trying to stitch our future with our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists.

“And in the midst of this terrible despair it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normalcy. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew.

“This one is no different. It is a porthole, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoking skies behind us.

“Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage and ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

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