Becky & I help out here and there at VBS and had some of the older youth for service projects and such. We had a pretty good night and as things were drawing to a close and kids are heading out with parents I was called upon - "Dan, we need you."
A good family friend had a real issue; a kitten had climbed inside the frame of their van. It's a sturdy box structure with a cutout in the side web and it runs continuous up to the front bumper. The size was small enough that the kitten couldn't turn around. It sat, crying for deliverance from the situation.
First attempt were some sticks through a few holes to keep forcing it to move backwards. Kind of like reversing a game of Kerplunk. Didn't work.
I was able to position (doing yoga under the van) and reach into the frame and grab the tail. The edges of the metal cutout, the tin edges of the heatshield and the heat of the catalytic converter were unfortunate obstacles but I wanted to rescue this kitten. The frame had a small bump to tie in the front wheel structure and the kitten was on the other side. A few attempts pulling on the tail only moved it about 3" and then it was a narrow opening requiring the tail and legs to come through at the same time. I tried this way for about 15 minutes - pulling the tail wasn't enough and my reach wasn't enough to hook the legs to get it over the bump. Eventually the panicked mewing stopped and we all knew the hoped and anticipated outcome wasn't to be. This story doesn't have a happy ending.
About a dozen kids were around hoping to hold, cuddle, name and claim a distraught furball. Their happiness would go unfed and hungry tonight.
I feel terrible. Mostly for that family that has to carry the burden and reminder for some time longer. Also for my 9 y/o who was feeling the weight the brokenness. Also for my 8 y/o who was covering his ears in panic thinking that the van starting up as the family drove home would cause some further damage. The damage had been done.
I know a curious kitten getting stuck and dying is nothing compared to the deep loss many feel. We kick against relationships broken beyond repair, death too soon, or nature shows as unpredictable and tragic once again.
I will admit - I like to be the hero and I wanted this to have a glorious ending. I must also admit that I hate coming up short. I hate seeing children suffer loss. They don't play the mental gymnastics to make loss easier - "it was just a cat", "I can get another one", "it shouldn't have climbed in there to begin with", "why is that hole even in the frame? stupid van maker".
They see it full on and weep.
Is it possible to receive the kingdom of God as a little child, and somehow not also see the brokenness of earth as a little child? Probably not. Below is a video that is pushing me towards some ease.
Maybe it's a better thing,
to be more than merely innocent
to be broken and then redeemed by love
Maybe this old world is bent, but it's waking up