The Unexpected Lesson

by Blue Heron

About two months ago I purchased a lovely pet rat for my classroom. I was told that she might be with child; and that if that proved to be true, I could return the babies to the pet shop. Well sure enough, two weeks ago fourteen little baby rats showed up one morning tucked under mom. Now rats get a bum rap from a lot of people who shrink back, and readily express their dislike. I found myself a little hurt at the responses I got when I announced the happy births. We might have something to learn if we spent some time observing the mother and babies as I have these past few weeks.
Mom’s life was no longer her own. She seemed as surprised as I was by the babies. She has spent most of her time running to receive food; stuffing herself, and then racing downstairs in her cage to nurse. Sometimes she lay on top of the babies to nurse. At times she separated them into two groups and handled each separately. Occasionally I would find her sprawled out taking a “cat nap” while the satiated babies slept. If I had to describe her behavior during the past few weeks, it would be frantic and focused. What a great mother she has been. I wonder who taught her how to be a mother. She was too young to have learned by watching a peer. 
I thought about how I react when I am suddenly saddled with an “unexpected” responsibility. Most of my initial energy is spent in feeling sorry for myself about what has just landed in my lap. I falter, and come up far short when I compare myself to this devoted little creature. Now I try to prepare myself for letting go of this handsome brood of ratlings. Their eyes have opened and I have grown fond of their little rumble each morning as I bring them apple slices and cheese.
This entry was posted in Convictions, Learning, Pets by Blue Heron. Bookmark the permalink.

About Blue Heron

My wife and I became members of the Community in 1975. We had come to the Community prior to that time on various retreats from our church in Connecticut. I landed an elementary teaching career in 1976 and taught in that same school until 1999. We raised two sons (now married) who are both now professed members of the Community. We have three grandchildren and three granddogs. I continue to work in the public school teaching science on a part time basis, and also serve as advisor and part time teacher for a group of parents who homeschool in the Community. My wife works as a dental assistant. Life in the Community has expanded my borders far beyond what I would have imagined. Over the years I have sung with the choir, participated in Gregorian Chant, served as chalice bearer, made stained glass, been part of a writing group, built sets for Gilbert and Sullivan productions and sung in them. The list goes on. I cannot think of a better environment to raise a child. And I cannot think of any place that would have challenged more, and kept me moving forward as a Christian father and husband. I have been over my head and lifted above the waters. I am looking back in gratitude, and forward in hope.

One thought on “The Unexpected Lesson

  1. Having been devoted to Pinky and Gus, my pet white rats, in my prayers for many years, in their earthly life and onward, I was so drawn to your post.

    Thank you.

    I look forward to being present at Services over the coming weeks.

    Meredith (Hospice Chaplain)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *