Published 3:33 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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I am a proud Alpha Gamma Delta, initiated at the great Mercer University. Growing up I certainly learned what it meant to “love my neighbor,” but it was my Alpha Gam days which made me intentional in my efforts to be of service. It was with my sisters I learned about “contributing to the world’s work in the community I am placed.” Alpha Gam girls are so serious about it, we put it in our Purpose. We hold it as one of our highest ideals. Even today, us ladies are determined. As much as it is up to us, we will better our little world, our community. As a symbol of this work, our mascot is the squirrel. They are beloved by Alpha Gams because they serve as a reminder, we are always to be moving about to get the job done. Determined and willful, my sisters and I, we move mountains.  Need something accomplished? Call an Alpha Gam. We are warriors.

Warrior squirrels are a thing in real life. Get a good look into their big eyes and you’ll see their determination. Determination and a will to accomplish is a great thing. Except when it’s not. Admit it, when I brought up squirrel, your mind immediately went to the nests they have made in your homes. My fix-it fella, with his ever-focused eye, spotted and brought to me his concern over a squirrel hole in my home. I made him aware of two things. First, with his superb ability to point out everything wrong, I was sure he is a blast at parties. Second, I knew of this hole and I am at peace with the squirrel family, complete with cousins, squatting in my attic. He made some comment about being a nuisance and then the conversation went down dark pathways, ultimately ending in something about a freezer full of meat. Fix-it fella has no mercy, and I am more than a little concerned. For good or bad, a squirrel is chock-full on determination and a will to accomplish his mission. A warrior indeed.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I got a visit from one of my yard warriors. My dressing table sits in front of a bathroom window. As I was putting on moisturizer, my squirrel friend perched himself on the window ledge. He was watching me with his big eyes, and not to be outdone, I watched him right back. Except this warrior was also a lingerer. He, like my fix-it fella, was hyper vigilant in his efforts to keep track of any new developments. My initial thought was to be as still as possible because I was enjoying his company and examining his rarely seen peaceful self at rest. Any movement I made would surely cause him to scurry off and be about his duties. After the first five minutes of his company, I thought this is a rare treat. I remembered my morning prayer requesting God show up to romance me in a personal way, and here he is, this mascot of my beloved sorority. Precious memories of my college days came to mind and I soaked them up in gratitude. God had indeed sent me a little love note in this small warrior. With my dinner date quickly approaching, I moved to put my face on. By the time I got to mascara, he was still on the ledge. At this point I acknowledged this was a really long love note. Face finished, I moved on to hair. The warrior, 45 minutes later, is still lingering. Onward to wardrobe. Fully dolled up, I returned to the bathroom, and was still acknowledged by my squirrel friend. I sat in my makeup chair again and steadily watched as his little chest would take breaths. For some reason I found the movement soothing. Time to meet my dinner date, I grabbed my purse and hunted my keys. It was in my hunt I rejected the idea my lingering squirrel was in fact my love note. The oddity of the occurrence became alarming.

And poof! What was once my love note was now something I worried over. Clearly, there is something wrong. Warriors simply don’t linger like this. He should have long ago been up and about his work. I thought of my vet friend and dismissed the idea, he was just a squirrel. Right? Just a squirrel. I was not going to bother Kyler with this foolishness, circle of life and all of that. Right? I remembered fix-it fella’s tales of freezers of meat. Maybe someone’s dinner hopes had escaped, but not unscathed. I circled back to the window and he was still perched there, perched for going on an hour now. I watched him breathing again. I don’t know what a heartbeat on a squirrel should look like, but he didn’t show any signs of distress. Except he wasn’t about his work. Although I had decided I was not going to involve my vet friend in this, I picked up my phone and pulled up the K’s looking for his number. Then I just stopped. What was I going to say? “Hey, Kyler, long story, but I got this love note from God, and now I think he is slowly dying on the ledge of my home.  No, I don’t know what a normal squirrel heartbeat looks like, but I’ve invested 6 minutes in watching his. Yes, I want to spend all my dollars on healing a squirrel.” No, I wasn’t going to say that. But I was going to sit there and mourn my hurting warrior.  I don’t mean a little tear down my face. Fully committed, there was a “destroy a fresh face of makeup” lament. Then it turned all kind of burdensome with the theological implications of going from love letter to witnessing a warrior defeated and dying. I went really heavy, really quickly.

I repaired my makeup job and got in the car to go to dinner, quite sure I would not be good company. But I have faked it well in the past and I would pull from that same well to present myself as fun and light despite my haunting. I had witnessed this sad little creature, the same one who brought some extremely sweet and personal memories, morphing into something he was never meant to be.  My love note was a wounded warrior. I couldn’t stand the thought he had to exist in this state where he was denied all the things making him a squirrel. His motivation stripped, his determination vanquished, his will crushed, I wondered what it was like for a warrior to lose his essence. Thanks for the love letter, God. That request gets permanently deleted from my prayer list. No thank you. I went to dinner, brought up how odd it was and then hid behind my happy face. I came home and dashed to the window. My warrior friend had politely left and gone about his next task. Sometimes warriors simply need to restore. This warrior had chosen to take his shelter with me. Lingering did not make my friend any less of a warrior. Lingering had given him exactly what he needed to keep on being the warrior. Warriors require a haven. Even the fiercest of warriors need a place where they do nothing more than breathe in and breathe out. I had received a love note indeed. Not only did I get to share my makeup hour with a warrior, but I also got to see him enjoy refuge. Mine was the company he felt safe replenishing in. What an amazingly written love note. There are incredibly scarce places and extraordinarily rare people a warrior will seek refuge in. I learned two things this day. First, even the most powerful warriors need rest. And second, there is the warrior who is precisely trained to offer sanctuary for restoration. I am the second warrior. God told me so in a love letter.