Little injuries

While biking a few weeks ago, I ran over a caterpillar.

It was one of those “you can’t help it” things. By the time I saw the caterpillar, I was on top of it. I tried swerving, and then I went back to look for it, just in case, but I couldn’t find it. So either I didn’t squash him or else I did and “the body was never recovered.”

I biked home sad because I killed a butterfly. Not intentionally, but still. Butterflies are beautiful, and now there’s a little less beauty in the world.

I’ve been aware lately of the little injuries in the world, the small wounds that harm individuals at most, but are caused from carelessness, thoughtlessness, freak mistakes, and the like.

For example, early in July while I was at the playground, my son was playing with his friends when a grandmother came with her grandson, who had a sand bucket and three digging tools. She set them out on the ground, but the little boy didn’t want to play with them. My son and his friends played with them instead, and when I told them to leave the toys for the little one, the grandmother said no, it was fine.

A lot of older kids came to the playground too, but everyone was doing just fine. When it was time for us to go, I went back to find the sand tools for the little boy, and I could only find two. The grandmother and I looked around, but the third one had vanished. Had one of the kids buried it? Or one of the older kids taken it? We never found it, and the grandmother said, “It’s fine. He’ll never know.”

She’s probably right: the little kid never showed any interest in the digging toys, but it’s still a little injury in the way the world should have been.

I’m not sure I have a point here, and I know I’m not living up to the blog’s promise of satire. Sorry. But if the work of God is, as Father Walter Ciszek writes in He Leadeth Me, to do whatever work is in front of us, then part of that work is to heal life’s little injuries. Only sometimes we can’t, and I’m not sure if the best response is to pause and grieve them, or if it’s to be like the little boy’s grandmother and just acknowledge them, shrug, and move on.


  1. Maria Franzetti

    I really liked this post. It gave me food for thought. Thanks Love, Mom

  2. Tana Bevan

    “part of that work is to heal life’s little injuries.” IMHO, healing does not necessarily mean make whole again or eradicating the experience. Healing means moving forward, having had the experience.

    Conveying the idea/concept that hurts/injuries (large and small) are a part of life, is healthy. Reaching the other side of an injury or hurt is all the sweeter for having gone through it. The trick is in the balance.

    My wish/prayer/hope is you and yours have cups of joy and only teaspoons of sorrow.

    1. cricketB

      I’ve been researching Buddhism. They distinguish between Pain and Suffering. Pain is the immediate feeling of sorrow or hurt. Suffering is what we do to ourselves when we focus on the pain or don’t let go. We will never be free of pain. We can all reduce (but not eliminate) suffering.

      In my experience, there are times when simple (or even complex) acknowledgement works best. There are other times when shrugging works best, times when putting it off a bit works.

      Years ago I read about a multi-cultural training for a large city hospital. They described a new widow who was crying and wailing extensively. They thought they would have to admit her because she was taking it so hard. Fortunately, her family was there. It turns out, though, that she was behaving typically for her culture. In her home country, they worried about those who didn’t immediately feel and fully express their grief.

      May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.