Squirrels and Spiritual Persistence?

While reading the Christian Science Bible Lesson on my back porch this morning, I saw a squirrel at the base of our rather tall bird bath.  He clearly wanted a drink of water and I wondered how he would get up there.  He first tried climbing directly up, but couldn’t get a claw-hold on the metal supports.  Then he backed up and took a running leap which propelled him directly to the lip of the bath, from which he was able to pull himself up and gain the nourishment he needed.  Pretty neat!

This reminded me of another “squirrel incident” of about 15 years ago. It was one of those heavy and deep New England winters with a lot of snow.  We had put out a bird feeder that claimed to be “squirrel-proof”—a contraption that also had a half-dome shape above it.  The dome’s purpose was to spin and prevent any intruders from gaining access to the bird seed from above.

On one particular day, while practicing the piano, I stopped for a few moments to gaze out the window—a window that had a clear view of the feeder.  On top of a slight snow drift that had built up on the ground beneath the device, sat two squirrels who were eagerly eyeing that food source from below.

What happened next was remarkable.  One of the squirrels climbed the tree and went out onto the limb from which the feeder was suspended perhaps a foot or so below.  He then proceeded to hang upside down, stretching himself to his full extent, and test the dome’s rate of spin with his paw!  He tried several times to leap on the dome but promptly fell onto the drift.  Undaunted, he repeated the process until he correctly ascertained the spin rate and what he needed to do to make the transitional leap to the feeder below— a leap that he succeeded in doing.  But rather than feeding himself first, he knocked food down to his buddy below.

As amazing as all of that was, what followed was even more so.  The two squirrels then changed roles—the 2nd one now heading up the tree and repeating the exact same learning process until success was achieved.  He, too, then knocked the treasure down to the 1st squirrel who was waiting on the drift below to receive his share of the bounty!

A few days later, I told this remarkable story to one of my wife’s work colleagues, who passed it off by saying “What else does a squirrel have to do?  They’re entirely focused on getting food and they have all day to do it!”

I think that individual missed the point.  Here was what to human sense seemed to be an insurmountable problem.  In today’s instance as well as in the one 15 years ago, everything seemed stacked against these furry creatures’ success, yet that focus, that persistence, to receive their nourishment transcended all other considerations.  The degree of “thinking out-of-the-box” and intelligence that was expressed was extraordinary.

And, isn’t that kind of spiritual persistence, focus, and willingness to strive in new directions exactly what we need to be demonstrating in our own spiritual quest—a quest to be truly more Christian by becoming more effective healers as our Master, Jesus, expected of all of his followers?  Shouldn’t that same kind of consecration to the goal of true spiritual nourishment be what our thought is regularly focused on—a consecration whose goal is to feed our neighbor as well as ourselves?

Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health (p. 518):

The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.

Divine Love’s provisions are right there for each of us.  As I’ve seen from my squirrel friends, all we have to do is be willing to really stretch and grasp them!

6 thoughts on “Squirrels and Spiritual Persistence?

  1. Really helpful — a good encouragement to be willing to try other options if the first attempt is not successful and to keep the goal clearly in mind. Thanks!

  2. I love this story, topic and the inspirations it brings! Persistence is so important! … stretching AND grasping, so important!

    When we grow spiritually, we really need to stay with that new spiritual understanding and not let ourselves slide back into old thinking.

  3. I am grateful you chose this topic because I’ve been thinking about what the difference is between persistence and human will. Do you not think it must be the intent, motive behind the act? Jesus was persistent in Gethsemane several times asking for help from his disciples but receiving none. Then he let it go. The blind man was persistent with Jesus wanting to be healed until he was. Could we say persistence arises from the Will of Good, to the Will of Good, for the Will of Good that blesses where human will is a miscalculated selfish desire not having a godlike focus? Certainly the squirrels need for food, their ingenuity, and intelligence provided the know how. I would think this would be a good example of persistence as you stated and not human will.

Comments are closed.