I was walking from my office to the church a few nights ago, going in to prepare for the evening Mass, when I heard it. It wasn’t loud, but definitely I heard it. So I back-stepped a ways and looked and looked and looked. Quiet. Nothing. So I turned back, continuing on my path to the sanctuary, and then heard it again! Sounds of scratching nails on metal – a peep or two – and the bustle of something confined and trapped. And then, a grunt.
I had never heard a squirrel grunt before.
True, I’ve heard them make sounds, but not a grunt. This little animal had, somehow, wormed her way into the space between the wheel and brake-disc on the rear tire of my car. And she was stuck. And afraid, no doubt. Her little claws had no traction on the aluminum. No space to turn around and go back the way she came. She couldn’t move and was struggling to free herself from this thing which she’d gotten herself into. But it was no use. There was no hope.
I had to run into Mass then. I thought “I’ll just come out afterward, pull the wheel off the truck, and she’ll be ok,” but the entire time, I could think of nothing but that poor little life. I knew that I was the only one aware of her plight and so I was the only one that could help… and that leaving her there, even for an hour, was the same as me torturing her. I had to go help.
How often have we crawled into something bad? How many times have we made a decision that ended up trapping us, and having us feel as though there’s no hope? “I can’t tell anyone how I really feel, or what I’ve done.” How often have you turned from the people that love you – from God – and rolled the stone in front of a tomb of your own making? I have. And I’ll tell you, it’s awful.
But God is always walking by, on His path, waiting to hear our “grunt.” Our call, our cry to Him to save us. He, alone, is our savior. The one who cannot stop thinking about us in our pain, wanting nothing but to help. He who pulls the wheel off so we can be free; who causes the rocks to burst into dust, stretches out his hand to help us out of our despair and brokenness.
No matter what our scars look like, to Him, they’re beautiful.
Need proof? God sent His only Son into the world. He seeks us out, meets us where we are, and walks with us. Jesus Christ shows us how the most fabulous and vibrant life can come from what seems like a hopeless crucifixion.
Dear God of the most amazing love, thank you for always finding us, no matter where we’re stuck. Grant us the grace to take your hand, stand up, and live a new and beautiful life with you.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center.