By: Author Nan McKenzie
February is Heart Month, a good time to get in touch with the feelings engendered within, since the weather can be so frightful in February. I remember a very rainy day in February, driving north of Anaconda with my former husband and daughter and son. “Stop! Stop! I yelled, and RJ pulled the car over to the side of the road. An impromptu river had sprung up beside the road, rushing along, finding its way over small hillocks and heavy tufts of laid-down winter grass.
A small mother skunk was struggling out of the water, a tiny kit in her mouth. She deposited the baby on a little hillock in the middle of the river and immediately turned back, swimming heavily against the current. We could see three more babies, nearly in the rising water on a wet bank, mewling, their wee heads bobbing up and down in the manner of newborns. The mother skunk grabbed another baby and fell back into the river, swimming as best she could while trying to hold her little one out of danger. After an agonizing several minutes, she was able to drop the second baby beside the first, and turned to paddle back. Her movements were slowing, and her black head with its white stripe looked like it would sink into the water. The rain was unrelenting, pounding down, adding to the misery.
The third baby was grasped and hauled into the water, Mother being almost too tired and cold to climb out on the bank, but she gamely jumped in and paddled along, keeping the tiny one’s head up until she reached the other two. Unfortunately, the water was coming up so quickly that the safe haven was quickly becoming dangerous, swift water pushing at the kits. Nonetheless, she dropped the third baby and hardly moving now, pushed through the stream to finally reach her fourth baby, who was lying still and cold, almost unresponsive when she managed to struggle out of the water and grasp it in her mouth. Again, she plunged into the water, both she and the baby going under and being swept away, but there she was, little head rising below the other three, baby still in her mouth, slowly climbing onto another iffy refuge.
We continued to watch as she threw herself into the water again to swim to the stranded three, and started all over to bring the little family together. Tears were streaming out of my eyes, and I wanted to rush out and help her but the river was too full, too fast, and I was afraid. Her poor heart must have been about to burst, but she finally managed to carry all three to a higher spot. When we drove away, we all watched as she sat in the middle of the rising river with her babies around her. I’ve often wondered about her fate, and how she and her babies finally did. Now by golly, that’s heart.
Our heart is a magical organ, capable of loving, giving, generosity, anger, hurt, evil and goodness. It is also capable of fining down to love a tiny flower, a teacup puppy, a newborn child, and yet it can expand to encompass a family, friends, co-workers, showering them with love, and expanding even further to love a neighborhood, a country, even all Americans. Our miraculous heart can grow and grow until it sends its love to the entire world, as some of us may see in meditations. And it’s Heart that can make a mother do anything to save her babies.