Heartist Day

February 16, 2006

Like many other lucky people, I received Paulus Berensohn’s Valentine card this week. This year his drawing is, at once, more powerful and more pleading.

valentine_help1

Opening up the card, Paulus writes on the inside:

“Help”
the cry of the Heart
— to offer and give
— to need and receive
— to each other and our earth

For Paulus, the heart, in all its manifest shapes and sizes, is asking for help. In this time of global chaos, the cry of the heart is not specifically personal or solely human. Gaia also is hurting; anima mundi also is hurting; all creatures great and small are hurting. Love is needed everywhere.

pygmy_possum2On the morning of this Valentine’s Day, I found, half drowned in the bottom of a water jug, a Little Pygmy-possum desperately trying to stay alive. It had fallen in looking for something to drink, but due to its small size—two inches long, 60 mm—it was unable to climb or jump out of the jug. Boy, did it look miserable.

While resident artist, Sally, cuddled the little guy close to her belly to help lessen any hypothermic conditions, a hot-water bottle was prepared and positioned in the bottom of a box, followed by lots of soft clothing. Here, the pygmy-possum was gently placed in a warming hollow of clothes. Giving us what looked like a heartfelt “sweet thank you”, it then burrowed deep into the fabric and disappeared out of sight.

Nothing could be done now but wait until nightfall and see if this tiny nocturnal marsupial revived enough to climb out of the box and find its way beneath the oven where, I suppose, it feasted nightly on the bits of food and crumbs dropped by the messy chef.

When Sally and I returned late from a trip to Hobart for our own food gathering and a dinner out, we noticed that the box was empty. We went to bed sleepy in the contented knowledge that all had turned out okay.

pygmy_possom_babyBut, as in all matters of the heart, the doors of compassion, joy and pain keep opening and shutting. The “little guy” turned out to be a mother as, the next morning, I found two dead babies on the kitchen floor, most likely drowned while in the pouch of its mother and subsequently removed when she, herself, recovered. A third was later found by Sally.

All three are now buried under a stone at the base of the ancestral midden. May their little spirits rest in peace.

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