Posts Tagged ‘boundaries’

“We caught him!”

I looked up from my laptop, to see my husband’s face shining with excitement. “Come out and see him!” 

So, we walked out to the yard, where, under the trees in a “have-a-heart” trap, was a large, full-grown, vanquished, male raccoon.  It looked up with pleading eyes, frozen in place, watching us as we assessed him.  Now, before I go on with the story, I must give you a little history. 

Context is everything…

Three weeks ago, Bill set the trap.  He used a full can of sardines as bait.  We had tried everything else. In the morning, the trap had yielded a neighborhood cat. Disappointed, we let the pitiful little thing go to its home, feeling guilty for setting the trap in the first place.    The next night, the same, brand new trap had almost given its life as an offering towards the quest… Wonderfully, the raccoon had found the trap, and taken the sardines.  But, in the process, the not-so-little bandit had all but destroyed our trap.  It lay in bent and battered pieces the next morning, a tribute to the raccoon’s cunning. In response, and, as a tribute to his own tenacity, my husband wired it back together with bailing wire, reinforcing the trap door.  “There!” he declared. “The little jerk won’t do that again!”   

Why this raccoon?  Why this focus of energy?

Well, it all began several years ago.  It has become a quest; a mission; a passion, if you will.  Like a knight in search of a grail, my husband has discovered a priority. The raccoons are the enemy from hell; similar to St. George’s dragon, you see. For the protection of our home, they must go….. The quest has enveloped each of our family members in one way or another, at one time or another.  In the course of his quest, we have discovered all sorts of theories, and falsehoods about how to deal with the little breed.  

It all started when our oldest daughter, Rachel, came home from college one year.  We had known there were gaps around the dormers on our roof needing to be repaired; filled in. But, when you are refurbishing a church campus, limited  in finances, and working, there is only so much energy to go around.  So, understandably, the dormers had waited.  

After unpacking her suitcases, Rachel, then 21, pulled the hinged stairway down that leads to our attic. Her attempted task was to put her bags away. After extending the stepladder, she  began the short climb, looking upwards, then down.  She reached down to gather her empty suitcase from the floor, readying herself to swing the bag up into the open access.  In her peripheral vision, she saw a movement.  She almost fell off the ladder with a stifled scream. She looked again towards the access. 

A rather large raccoon was standing on its  haunches, front feet up, teeth bared.  It was hissing and growling.  Apparently, she had invaded its home.

Its home? I had thought it was our home…. 

Rachel came running downstairs. So startled was she, that she forgot to close the access stairs. “Mom! Dad! Did you know there are raccoons in the attic?”  “Mom! How did they get in there?” Thankfully, the raccoon “king” was satisfied that he had defended his domain and had not ventured down the stairway…

Did you ever discover something that suddenly needed attention?  A lot of attention?  Unknown to anyone living in our home, elements of destruction had been working for a long time.  Repairs were extensive and time-consuming; requiring strategy. They were expensive.

It was like the painful discovery of a blindspot; like seeing a need for change. 

Upon inspection, Bill discovered a family of raccoons in the attic.  How long they had been there, we couldn’t tell.  But they had certainly created themselves an environment.  They loved it there..

But so did we…. 

In the process of getting rid of the ones in the attic, a few got away…..causing us to begin a journey. Over the past six years, we have caught and relocated many raccoons; all of which have come from this one little attic family.  (We have also worked to repair the roof….) And, as far as we know, the male Bill caught this morning was the last of them.  

As I stood, considering the little imp in the trap today, I found the inevitable words coming out of my female mouth. “But, he’s so cute, honey! Look at him! The poor thing! How long has he been in there?” 

My husband looked at me in disbelief, his mouth open. “What?” 

“I’m sorry,” I replied. “It’s just hard to believe this is the one.” 

Bill put his arm around me. “He’s the one.”

In my heart I know he is right. The long list of repairs we have done because of this particular raccoon came to my mind.  He has broken the glass in the birdfeeders, and bent the metal suet feeders, rendering them almost unusable.  He has chugged full hummingbird feeders, leaving them empty, with trails behind him. He has chewed. He has dug.  He has destroyed the finch feeders, requiring their replacement.

And he is done.  So am I.  Looking at him, I realized my personal need to face the facts. He might be cute, but he was destructive.  He might be cowering now, but he had wreaked havoc with his siblings in our home.  As a whole, the raccoon race had cost us hundreds of dollars.  My battle?  I found myself wanting Bill to let him go because I momentarily felt sorry for him.  If we did let him go into the neighborhood once again, our frustrations would continue, and the quest would return… 

For that moment, the raccoon was full of regret — of his appetite for sardines, and his destructive patterns.

For that moment, I felt guilty — for impeding his processes, for his capture, for his impending relocation.

But regret and guilt don’t make changes.  Repentance does. Strategies and Intentional Action make changes.  Feelings don’t dictate growth. Character dictates growth.

Context is everything…

It is sad, but I have met many people who are stuck in the perpetual cycles of guilt and regret…. allowing a quest to be revisited because they hope a quick apology will undo years of bad behavior.  They wrongly believe it is their responsibility to maintain the happiness of those they love who carry destructive behaviors….. 

King Solomon said “is is the little foxes that spoil the vines.” And he was right.

Beware of the masked bandits…..


(C)2010 DG Awakened to Grow. Duplication without permission prohibited.



Read Full Post »