Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lessons from St. Francis for the City

Hurrying to the next thing at the beginning of what promised to be a hectic day, I was distracted and made a turn too early and ended up on Grand St. instead of Parsells.  Getting near to Culver Rd (my destination was St. Mark's & St. John's), I thought I saw the biggest chihuahua I had ever seen crossing the road.

Then I had one of those twilight zone moments. You know the kind: when you see something totally out of context. This does not belong here.  But there it was, a fawn, clearly just a few weeks old.  If I stopped I was going to be late for an important meeting.  But I had to stop.

She was clearly lost and a bit bedraggled. One side of her head was covered in chewing gum.  I had no sense her Mama was nearby.  They'd gotten separated.  I approached her and she did not move or appear the least bit timid.  She let me pick her up and she was fine, until her instincts kicked in. She made a noise to wake the dead.  Two people ran out of their house probably thinking someone was beating a dog.

I put her in the back of my station wagon and she calmed right down.  The animal shelter on Verona Street said I had to call animal control, but to do that I had to call the city referral number: 311.  I told the person on the other end of the phone what the situation was and she told me it was dangerous to handle a wild animal.  I suppose it is, but danger had never crossed my mind.  What should I do? I said.  "Animal control won't help you with this. Just let it go right where you are."  Really? I said.  But it will get run over or a dog will kill it.  "We can't help it," she said. "Let nature take its course."

I was stunned.  Now I understand all the logic involved in that response.  But I had a living thing in the back of my car that was not going to survive on its own.  WWFD.  What would Francis do?

To make a long story short, while I went to my meeting, John called any number of people and finally found someone near Buffalo who runs a deer sanctuary and would take the fawn.  So after my meeting the fawn and I drove to Batavia and met a nice young woman who took her, assuring me I had done the right thing.

I don't know if I did or not.  Someone we had tried to reach through our dogs' vet called later in the day and scolded me because her mother could have been around or coming back.  I hope not. I hope I guessed right.

I am haunted by "Let nature take its course," as if that is always the right thing to do.  "Nature" is as beautiful and cruel as the day is long.  I have trouble treating it as if it were a sentient being.  I neither worship nor take my marching orders from "Nature," I worship and take my marching orders from God.  But, of course, even all that sounds simpler than it is.

I know that of all things I am most sentimental about animals, and sentimentality can get us (and the object of our sentimentality) in a heap of trouble.  I hope I did the right thing. I suppose that's the most you can do most days.

I'll take solace from St. Catherine of Siena:  "The reason why God's servant love God's creatures so deeply is that they realize how deeply Christ loves them. And it is the very character of love to love what is loved by those we love."

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