We’re grateful that the car accident last week resulted in only minor injuries. The Toyota truck carrying our daughter and her roommate rolled twice on the Anaheim freeway. Two cars were totaled, and their belongings scattered far and wide. Their beloved pit bull/lab mix, Grizzly, bolted from the scene. After two days of exhaustive searching in a strange town, they were worried that he was hurt and suffering alone, or worse. Bereft, they continued to canvas the area, putting up flyers and visiting all the animal shelters and rescue centers, to no avail.
Then they got a call from a family who had found him. Most of his tags had come off in the accident, but his rabies tag remained. The family contacted the vet in Austin, who had a phone number matching the ID. When the girls arrived to claim him, Griz limped toward them, tail wagging, sporting a few cuts and bruises, but otherwise okay. The family had found him whimpering in the bushes about a mile from the accident site. He’s still a little shaky, but returning to his sweet self.
Animals often hide when they’re injured. It’s a protection instinct, since they can’t defend themselves or run away. I once helped a neighbor search for her missing cat. We found him curled up in a tree stump, his leg broken after being struck by a car. I recently watched a cardinal drag herself behind a flower pot on my deck after hitting the window. Recovering from the shock, she emerged from behind the planter and flew away.
We aren’t so different. After an emotional wound, it makes sense to put up defenses, and hide within the safety of controlled boundaries. Trusting others might seem too dangerous, so we avoid it by not being fully present, or not showing up at all. It’s a smart approach, but not without consequences – loneliness, isolation, a lack of connection.
I think about the family who found Griz. Animal rescuers are golden-hearted people, unequivocally. It took no small amount of bravery and wisdom to approach an injured pit bull, and another dose of compassion to take him home and care for him. On his part, Griz had to come out of hiding and give up his defenses to accept their help. Probably hunger and desperation had weakened them a bit.
We might not know what wounds someone has suffered, but we can understand the hiding part. Walls are up, control is exerted, anger is quick. Some courage is required to provide a safe place to rest. It’s risky on both sides. But perhaps we can remember when someone offered that grace our way, and how it rescued us, and led to healing.