(Many newcomers and browsers here have wondered what the deal is here with the constant squirrel comments. I will let our own Beckita explain the time line:
The inception of squirrels into our conversations actually began in the comments following Charlie’s major post, “Soldiers of Christ; Missionaries of Mercy,” on November 15,2015. There is mutual responsibility for this burgeoning, nearly out-of-control interest in the critters. As in any sprawling family, each of us remembers how it all came to be from our personal lens. From how I see it, YD is the “Adam of the Squirrel Talk.” (We could also name him, “King of Roadkill.”) I’m going to illustrate my perspective with initial comments made in the thread.
You see, MP has had a long history on this site in employing elements from his nature treks as wonderful analogies for spiritual reflection. YongDuk beautifully acknowledged so on November 15, 2015 at 2:17 pm: ” I laugh with you, Michael Patrick! God takes you on such simple paths out to the woods. Much like Beckita said… And there is your place of learning and meditation and then you encourage us to get out and meditate amongst others and nature! pace bece, mio fatre!”
At 5:28pm, MP responded with an equally beautiful reply which began with: “YD, I find a bunch of similarities between the Adoration Chapel and the wilderness. Thank God for Charlie and NSR’ers encouraging one another to be a little reflection of Our Lord, Who we encounter there, to our fellow man wherever we encounter him…”
A little later that evening, YongDuk said: “You and I would agree on the Wilderness and Eucharistic Adoration Chapel! I typed a long reply but lost it. It ends that I took a 2 hour bike ride to pray and thought of you too, *but it was a squirrel killed by a car.* My thought was that you too probably prayed for the poor creature. I wondered if Doug did too and concluded that he probably would. (You and I might go more speculative theological and lament that it doesn’t have a soul and yet ask God to take it to Heaven nonetheless.)”
At this point on that evening of fond remembrance, 11-15-15, I fell off my computer chair in complete hysteria, laughing with joy-filled tears rolling. Thus: Beckita says: November 15, 2015 at 10:08 pm: Mmm, stir-fried squirrel for dinner!
Followed by: Doug says: November 15, 2015 at 10:10 pm “Hmmmmmm. Critters in heaven? Now that can be an interesting theological discussion…”
Followed by: Michael Patrick says: November 15, 2015 at 11:36 pm “Dead squirrel, eh? Ha! You do realize the American Coot (Fulica americana) is an actual water bird and I wasn’t simply making an ‘old coot’ jab, Young Duck…”
The ongoing interjections about squirrels have elevated them to NRS mascot status, evoked silly songs, poetry, wisdom sayings, analogical points, jokes and puns, in addition to becoming inspiration for shared personal stories, a focus for Christmas tree ornaments and theological points made. I’m willing to wager they have been a source of irritation, eye-rolling and perhaps outright revulsion for some. But hey! We’re family and sometimes the idiosyncrasies of brothers and sisters draw us into growth in virtue.
St. Paul says it best: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)
As I have mentioned, when I was a teenager, we had two pet squirrels for a while. They were hilarious and playful. They would go chasing after each other, then would sweep up one of my legs, across my shoulders, and down the other leg, It felt weird, but cool and funny. Cracked me up AND delighted me every time. When I was on my pilgrimage walking across the country, squirrels were playing with or chittering at me constantly. Usually, animals would take off when I pulled out a camera, but occasionally one stuck around for a bit. This squirrel at the right started chittering at me from a fork in a tree in Austin, Texas and would not shut up. In Loveland, Colorado, I woke up one morning to hear what sounded like intermittent hail pounding the top of my tent. It was actually a squirrel on a branch above me bombarding my tent with acorns, little sticks and stones.
When I first started this website, I was considering writing a piece entitled “Winter Squirrels,” contemplating how playful, occasionally irritable, always sociable – depending on their fellows for common defense, and how prudent they are. they store things away to get through the winter without losing their playfulness. So when the squirrel motif took off here, I indulged it because I like it – and I think they are perfect mascots for this site. Now we turn to Doug to give some more reasons why squirrels are toptally awesome!-CJ
Here is a re-stated history on the squirrels here on TNRS:
The squirrel got its start from one of Yong Duk’s posts back on Charlie’s November 14 Post. You can find it in the achieves. Let me know if you cannot find it. Basically, YD was writing a response to a post by Michael Patrick who is fantastic at writing imagery of nature and commenting about God’s adoration chapel in nature. YD lost his reply after writing. He ended with that he went for a 2 hour bike ride and saw a squirrel road kill. At the time I read this, I caught a squirrel eating out of my bird feeder and commented that he is being fattened up for when I need to shoot him for food during the storm. Well, that started a chain reaction of hilarious squirrel comments that have included camp fire squirrels songs and squirrely behavior that has kept going to date. As such, the squirrel has sort of morphed into the TNRS mascot. Some of us are even going out to buy squirrel ornaments for our Christmas trees.
As I reflect on this, I think the squirrel is a great representation of TNRS. Here are some reasons:
1) The squirrel spends its time in the warm season gathering nuts for the long stormy winter. We are preparing here temporally and spiritually for the storm like the squirrel gathering its nuts.
2) The squirrel will unsuspectingly twitch its tail to warn other squirrels about impending danger. As preparation for the storm, we are building each other up here and helping take The Next Right Step to do God’s will and help our fellow brothers and sisters through the dangers of the storm.
3) Squirrels are very trusting animals and remind us that we will need to be entirely dependent on God and totally trust him as we progress through the furry, I mean fury of the storm.
4) Squirrels tend to run in erratic paths. This is intended to deceive potential predators as to its chosen direction so that it may escape. We may need this tactic during the storm to evade the dangers and traps of the evil one. Of course, the down side of this is potential indecision that often turns squirrels into road kill…..
5) The squirrel is the Native American symbol for preparation, trust and thriftiness.
6) This may be unpopular to some folks, but squirrels are a good food source if during the storm conventional means of acquiring food is scarce.
7) Squirrels are playful and humorous of which we have much here that builds us up as family on Charlie’s blog (later addition from Steve BC).
8) Squirrels are so cuddly cute and furry. How can anyone not like a squirrel?