Friday 11 February 2022

The Elusive Dunnart

Since our beautiful dog, Ava, died in September last year, wildlife has returned to our garden. The birds linger longer. The king skinks and blue tongues slither about with more courage. The possums seem more active at night. And, unfortunately, we have had more mice and rats. There is one little critter, however, that avoids a positive identification. This little fella only appears as the light is fading and skips along the fence and branches in our front courtyard. He is fast. He is small. He could be a small rat or a rather fat mouse. But we suspect he is a dunnart. For those not familiar, a dunnart is an Australian, nocturnal, carnivorous marsupial. It looks rather mouse-like - especially when it hops briskly past the window at dusk. It has become somewhat of a family challenge to get more than a brief glimpse of this critter to positively identify its species. 

A few days ago, I had my best sighting yet. It was a rare evening where I was the only one home. There was none of the usual background noise associated with family time and getting a meal prepared. I sat in the lounge chair closest to the front courtyard. It was quiet. It was still. The elusive dunnart appeared and, unusually, lingered a while. It sat on the fence - waiting. I sat still trying to focus on the sillhouette. Definitely a dunnart - - I think! I was reluctant to move closer, knowing I would startle it and send it hopping. It was but a moment. A moment of stillness and clarity and wonder.

This experience reminded me of my desire to live a contemplative life. I know, from experience, that when I am able to be silent and still I am more likely to see the Divine with more clarity. There is still mystery and the unknown, but for a moment we meet. It is not something that can be captured or repeated, but it beckons us to return and be still again. It is very easy to become caught up in the busyness of life and completely miss the "dunnart" living amongst us. It is when we intentionally find the space to be still and wait that we may be surprised by the presence already in our midst.