The large fox squirrel is gathering and burying a cache of nuts. Making short raspy barks, his tail twitches furiously. He sprints up and down, and then circles the black walnut tree’s trunk wanting to make sure I know how annoyed he is that I am in his territory. I mimic back his bark and laugh as he looks at me and then really begins to use some bad squirrel grammar.
Black walnut trees are a great food supply for squirrels and numerous in this region of Michigan. The rough green husk covering the shell makes the nut a sizeable two inch ball, which can cause significant dents to a car shooting down a farm lane at fifty. The husk is removed by the bushy tailed marauders, and if they don’t eat the nut right then, it is buried…and if not dug up during the winter, becomes a tree.
I see farther off there are several squirrel cousins also harvesting this grove. Even though there is plenty, all are annoyed with each other at having to share their food source. My presence as I walk along the path makes them madder, and with sudden bursts they dash around chasing each other, chattering. The winner, at least for that moment, shoots a dominant glare at the other and returns to gathering. The chastised one works the far side of the tree out of sight…until the argument erupts again.
Winter is coming and these diligent creatures are preparing for the season of lack, and the challenges of remaining fed. Instinctively they know the time is coming when their world will turn to ice and snow. It is then that they will rummage below the snow, seeking the food that is hidden beneath.
We too face times of hardship, though we lack the instincts to know when they will come. We think we have readied ourselves, tried to prepare sufficiently for those times when our world turns cold and hard. Sometimes we succeed, often, we do not.
It is then that we must intentionally seek sustenance. We start to rummage for God, looking for something we know must be there somewhere, hidden, buried and possibly left behind.
In times of hardship, we seek The Food that will nourish. The thing is we must always seek to be fed; we cannot be nourished by the Eucharist if we do not seek Jesus in it. And this being fed is not a feast of gorging all at once, but in incremental morsels.
I often rummage about looking for God, for Our Lord hidden in the visible world. I also look for Him buried beneath my anxiety, concealed by my insecurities, and am often surprised by another’s unearthing of the love I have hidden even from myself.