I was driving along the highway the other day and I saw a turtle capsized and off to the shoulder. I always try to stop when I find animals injured or passed away at the side of the road. Turning it over only revealed the helpless fact that the poor animal was still alive, but savagely and mortally wounded.
I gently moved it off to the grass, said I was sorry and gave gratitude for its sacrifice.
Immediately, I began a judgmental rant on how mindless people can be by not watching out for the poor creatures that become senseless victims. Next, I headed to a property where I was to do some gardening.
At one point I needed to move a large pot to grab some weeds. I dragged it to the side only to hear the pained cry of a little toad. Mindless me! I know I should lift pots straight up to avoid injuring the frogs and toads that can live under them. Yet, it’s been awhile since I last moved one and I just wasn’t thinking about it. Nonetheless, the toad was wounded in some concealed way and although it looked ok, its breathing was laboured and it wouldn’t move.
Had I just committed the same crime that I so mercilessly judged the turtle killer for?!
What was the Universe trying to show me?
My behaviour severely distressed me. I didn’t mean to hurt anything…but that didn’t change the fact that I had. And I couldn’t fix it. My mind was flooded with hopelessly flawed questions: Why do innocent animals and people die because of the ignorance of others? Is there a way I can prevent this? What if I become hyper-vigilant of my every move…but what if that doesn’t work and I still kill an innocent animal or bug? Why do we care more about the deaths of ‘big’ beings than small ones?
And then the big one: What if the turtle killer didn’t mean it either? What if we’re all doing the best we can with the hand we were dealt?
I realized that I was going to make myself crazy with questions that have no answers so I decided to hand the whole thing over to Jesus, my guide.
I started wondering about how hospice care workers can be with dying people when they can’t do anything to rescue them. Then the revelation came…
That was it! Sometimes you can’t do anything about things like imminent death except to accept that it will happen and to bless the little (or big) being that has shown you something…a lesson in forgiveness and gratitude. Dying beings rarely hold grudges and if it is an animal, they certainly do not. They aren’t angry or bitter at the person or other being that caused their suffering. They simply accept it and graciously slip out of this world.
So, to all the beings, both tiny and large, that have shown me true grace and forgiveness through their quiet sacrifices, thank you for teaching me to be more wary of my judgements against others and myself and for showing me that the only uplifting thing that can be done with a tragedy is to accept it and walk in love, regardless of the circumstances.
Believe that each person is doing the best they can with the lot they were dealt in life and you’ll find yourself a more compassionate, loving, forgiving human being. Start with yourself first.
P.S. I checked on the toad a few days later and it was not in it’s hidey-hole anymore so I presume it recovered. Phew!