Tuesday, October 18, 2016


I wasn’t texting when it happened.   And I wasn’t checking emails on my cell phone.  And I wasn’t changing radio stations, munching on a McMuffin, or punching in an address on my GPS.  I was just driving my car.  Nothing more, nothing less. 

“Swear to God, Officer.”

That said, I WILL admit that my mind wasn’t exactly on the road.  Truth is, I was thinking of my father. 

You see, it was exactly 13 years ago that my dad was killed.  I’ll spare you the details, except to say that his death was sudden, tragic, and at the hands of another.  

Maybe I was thinking about his autopsy for the kjillionth time, and its myriad medical inconsistencies.  Maybe I was thinking about all the holes in the police investigation, if you can call it that.  Maybe I was thinking about those who came to my father’s funeral, and thanking God for each of them.

Whatever it was that I was thinking about, I was NOT thinking that a scrawny gray squirrel, doing an impression of Usain Bolt, would suddenly bolt across the street on which I was driving.  Immediately, I swerved to avoid the little guy, but as fate would have it, I hit him with my left front tire.

I felt it.  I heard it.  And when I looked back anxiously in my rear view mirror, I saw  it.  For the first time in my life, I had run over a squirrel. 

Coincidentally, my father was not a fan of squirrels. Watching them dig up his flawless lawn in search of last year’s nuts drove HIM nuts!  As did the fact that they would climb up and eventually empty his so-called “squirrel-proof” bird feeder of all the seeds that were intended for other, more Disneyesque, creatures.  

To him, squirrels were hairy rats that were destructive, disgusting, and a big ole pain in his...

“…but Dad, they are living and breathing evidences of God.  Learned it in church.”

In my last parish, I was leading a Bible study one evening.  As was my custom, the class began with me asking that wonderful Wesleyan question: “How are things with your soul?”

George T., the elder statesman of the class, quickly answered, “I have just seen undeniable and incontrovertible proof that God exists!”

A hush fell over the room, as we waited to hear how George, during his one-block walk to church, had witnessed something that all of humankind has been searching for since time immemorial. 

He shared how he was considering crossing Church Street when a squirrel scurried into the middle of the road - but then froze when it noticed a vehicle bearing down on it.   As soon as the driver saw the squirrel, said George, the car swerved. 

“The car swerved!”, he repeated.  

  When it became painfully clear to him that no one else in the room came to his conclusion, George explained slowly that deep down, at our very core, human beings are good.  That’s our nature.  That’s our instinct.  We have all been wired (by God) to instinctively have high regard for life – even the life of a lowly squirrel.  

I’ve never forgotten that.  As a result, every time I see a squirrel, living or otherwise, I am reminded that we have an amazing and loving Creator who created us all to be good – to squirrels, to refugees, to people in the other political party, to folks who don’t look like us - to EVERYONE!

If only the person who took my father’s life had squirreled that one away.   

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