This is about the quality of mercy and the choices that we make along the way. Anyone who has ever had to make a choice in the outcome of someone’s life knows where I am coming from. The chance for a few more precious moments versus the pain and suffering that might result.
At first my choice was clear. If I did not act death would surely follow. And not an easy painless death but a crushing moment of agony. It would be an outcome that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. And so I acted to prolong life, even if just for a little while.
The response was not what I hoped for. Mainly indifference but a look in the eyes that seemed to say “Why are you doing this?’ That parable came to mind, the one about saving a few starfish washed ashore and what difference it makes. The answer of course is that it makes a BIG difference to one starfish. The one saved.
My efforts were pretty much useless. After a while it became pretty clear that I could either step up the effort or walk away, condemning the poor unfortunate creature.
For in this instance it was not a brother or a sister or a mother or a father. It was a rabbit. A rabbit outside of my doctor’s office, on the shoulder of bustling Wyoming Ave. It was going to get hit and pretty soon.
Leaving the Docs office I was filled with thoughts of my own mortality when I came across this little brown bunny, frozen by fear or injury on the side of the road. I went up to it, risking my life to get on the other side of it, the side with cars hurtling past. I tried to herd it. It was not particularly interested.
It looked ok. No obvious blood. No broken limbs. It moved reluctantly when prodded by my foot. Mostly in the direction of the road and certain death. I was committed. I couldn’t just walk away and watch it get squished. After ten minutes of gentle pushes I moved it to the parking lot next door. I walked back to my car and as I drove off I could see it, huddled and miserable looking, not moving.
I felt pretty good with myself for a few minutes. I had saved the bunny. But then I got that thought, that feeling. Perhaps the bunny hadn’t wanted to be saved. Maybe it was a very old and sick bunny and knew about roads and flat bunnies and that was its mission and I had screwed things up. The quality of mercy. The choices we make along the way.