Friday, December 03, 2004

Mitzi and the Squirrel and Religion

There's a reason why Heather calls me "Snow White, the later years." I love animals - totally adore them. In the words from an old Looney Tunes cartoon: "I wanna hold him and squeeze him and kiss him and hug him and call him George." Hence the four cats that occupy my apartment. I also automatically gravitate to any dog within sight. I love birds and if it weren't for the cats, I would have a couple of them, too.

My office at PennMed is small and right next to Frank's, the president of the company - not always good to be in close proximity to Frances (is that an "i" or an "e" - always confuses me). However, my office does have a large window and glass door that look out over the little bit of greenery that surrounds the building's parking lot. For months last year I fed the birds and the squirrels outside my door. It was wonderful to look up from the laptop and see these critters. I even had a bird book in my desk and started to mark down the different types who visited.

Then one day a memo was circulated around the office: No more feeding the birds and squirrels. The ladies in the billing department in the back of the building had also been feeding them - but I was the only one in the front. It seems that some squirrels had been inside the engines of several of the cars, decimating their electrical systems. I'm not sure how it was determined that it was the squirrels in this industrial park who did the dirty work and not the squirrels any where else. I'm positive I didn't see anyone from CSI hovering around the lot. Trust me: if Gil Grissom were here I would know it (he'd still be locked in my closet).

So the proclamation was sent out to all the land: Don't feed the animals.

I did listen - for a while.

Then, in an effort to lose weight (an ongoing battle), I brought nuts, almonds and peanuts, into work for snacking - hoping to stay away from the bowl of candy in the billing department. After a couple of days I noticed a little squirrel outside my door snuffling at the ground - maybe sensing the remains to the feasts that I'd been forbidden to provide. I watched him for some time and then decided to do a minor act of civil disobedience. I took out a handful of almonds and delivered up a thanksgiving meal to him. Somewhere Henry David Thoreau smiled.

This also leads me to mention a "new" writer I've discovered. She's really been a successful writer for many years. Actually I should have said "they" have been successful writers for many years: Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. This is an unusual collaboration because Sneaky Pie is a cat. I'm listening to the Browns' "The Tale of the Tip Off" - my first Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie book and I'm enjoying it immensely. There are lots of animals in the story - cats, dogs, horses and even a 'possum - and all the animals talk - not to the humans but to each other. Rita Mae Brown makes something that could be too cutesy, into a metaphor for human foibles - as the cats and dogs together wonder about the strange doings of their "humans."

I just finished listening to a scene where two cats and a Corgi discuss their spirituality and view of death as opposed to the humans'. One cat says, "When the big cat in the sky pulls your string, it's time to go." The Corgi, of course, disagrees and a lively discourse on religion, as seen through animal eyes, continues. The dog has the last word, saying, "All I know is that I feel better when I think of a big Corgi."

I think that explains a lot of what may be happening in today's world. We humans have the tendency to want to see "God" in our own image - literally. Many Christians can't imagine Jesus as a darker-than-me Jew. Of course most of us - no matter what the religion - believe in god as a man - Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed. The feminine was ignore. And now if your god doesn't look like my god. . . .

Me? I'm content with the idea of the Big Cat (or Squirrel) pulling my string when it's my time to go. I'd be happy in that heaven.


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