A woman, down the road, found a baby snake tucked in the rim of her toilet this week. She bent down to scrub with her brush, her rubber gloves, and the slight, ribbon of a thing just popped out to say hello. Just as quickly, it was gone. Tucked up into the rim of the bowl.
Who can sit to do their business after a thing like that. Even the next day when the woman found the wee thing beneath her bath mat and released it back into the grass. All through town, in fact, people are lifting the seats and giving everything a good look before wasting no leisure on the throne.
All summer, I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere, and this is what I am driven to come back and tell you. That you can be going about your life quietly, assuming, only to be jarred awake to remember all the surprises and mysteries scattered about like land mines. As if your life is not the same. As if you might not already be aware this is the nature of our existence.
Last week, the week of the toilet snake, my daughter’s cat was knocked up-side the head. Though we speculate how this might have happened to a fault, we will probably never know. Running theories are car swipe, tree fall, hit or shot by a sociopathic asshole. The list could go on. What ever it was, we did not see it coming. Then, just as surely as we thought we would have to put her down after her solid 72 hour nap, she wobbled her self up, ate some breakfast and announced she was still kicking. We did not see that coming, either. The vet says she will recover, perhaps not fully, but enough to have a good life.
In the mean time, she falls down a lot. Paired with the swollen side of her face, it can be a pitiful sight. We’ve shifted everything to accommodate her. In the swirl of other life concerns, aging parents, bills due, mountains of things to get done, her very existence seems like a miracle. As if to say, life is fragile, but see, too how much hope there is. So we dote on her with long snuggles, bowls of soft pungent food. When she falls out of the litter box for the third time, I hold her steady so she can bury a steaming turd. This is life. This is love, flawed as it is.
Though often swayed by the mysteries of the Universe, I wouldn’t say I am a particularly religious person by any stretch. When the subject of miracles comes up, I am always reminded of a wonderful book I read. Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger.
“Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It’s true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave – now there’s a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.”
Contradicts the will of the earth. That’s a high bar. So really, I try to be careful when I use the word. Who can say what the will of the earth may be. Maybe it is truly the act of bothering which is the miracle. To be woken up from complacency or assumption. To know reliance on prediction is a lie. Perhaps the miracle is a small snake peeking out from the rim of a toilet bowl.
There is something about the unexpected which niggles at the thread of our contained joys and long managed concerns. Starts unraveling. Whispers, nothing is untouchable. It’s uneasy, to say the least. It is an open field with no cover from pending storms. It feels more alive than anything else.