Life Lessons from Scaredy Squirrel

By October 8, 2009 culture, faith No Comments

Breath for the Bones Book Club: Thoughts on Chapter 3

This summer I participated in my library’s reading program called A.R.K.S.—Adults Reading Kids’ Stuff. One read in particular has stayed with me; it was a picture book called Scaredy Squirrel. (You simply must click over to see Scaredy Squirrel’s sweet little face before going on! Then come on back . . .) Here’s a synopsis of the story:

Scaredy Squirrel was frightened of lots of things: bees, sharks, aliens, and the like. So he stayed in his nut tree to make sure nothing happened. And that’s exactly how his life went: nothing happened. One day he fell out of his tree after being startled by a bee. In the midst of this abnormal day of happenings—in the midst of his falling—he discovered he was actually a flying squirrel. He never knew he was capable of flying, capable of adventure, until he was forced out of his safety zone. After this historic day, he determined to work a bit of adventure into his routine, to discover the life outside his safe nut tree.

What can we learn from Scaredy Squirrel?

  • Pursuing safety as the highest goal will rob you of a full life.
  • Staying at home to avoid unlikely dangers is not a guarantee dangers won’t find you.
  • Hiding in a safety zone prevents you from discovering hidden personal traits.

The lessons are true . . . but the story is better, isn’t it? Won’t you remember Scaredy Squirrel far longer than the lessons I listed?

What is it about story that captures the heart and soul and mind—and memory?

Luci Shaw explains that our creative Creator designed us to grasp and comprehend life through story, through metaphor. In chapter 3, “Meeting the God of Metaphor,” of Shaw’s Breath for the Bones, we are brought back to this mystery of grasping the deeper hidden things of life through pictures and parables and illustrations.

Metaphors remind us there is more than what we can see and comprehend—even as metaphors attempt to explain something mysterious by saying “this is like that. In fact, in metaphor, ‘this’ is ‘that’ ” (Shaw 45).

Metaphor whispers to us that there is more.

Children’s picture books often weave a grand tale around the framework and structure of life lessons. The hope is that children will begin to see beyond the story to the deeper, hidden meaning to learn how to best live life.

As grown-ups we often forget the power of story. We no longer develop elaborate stories to act out. Work has become practical and logical with little story to be found. Remember the stories we acted out as kids? Where there was evil to conquer and good to protect and love that overcomes every obstacle? We’ve become way too proper and sensible in our old age.

I agree with Shaw though—“in the sacramental pattern of life, everything means something, everything may be a pointer to the holy” (53). The power of story remains; we just need to do a better job discovering it. The apostle Paul spoke hauntingly of our inability to see the real story of eternal mystery hidden beyond the veil of this life, reminding us that there is evil lurking who wishes to keep us grown-up and practical so that we forget the power of Story—God’s Story of redemption in Christ: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Maybe being grown-up has become our safety zone, our hideout in a nut tree. Up high, we can observe life unfolding all around us; we can see dangers from a mile away; we can create a monotonous routine to keep everything in check. Grown-ups are good at this. And the enemy tells us this is how it should be.

But I want to be like Scaredy Squirrel. I want to discover the hidden talents I don’t know I possess. I want to see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” and be enthralled by His beauty. This will require a leap from my safety zone as I seek out the hidden treasures locked up in the “sacramental pattern of life” that become “a pointer to the holy.” I need to choose to see, choose to think metaphorically.

Thanks, Scaredy Squirrel. You taught me that it’s better to fly.

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