The Tenacity of the Beaver
A Spiritual Metaphor
I hold up this creature as the Poster Child of Right Attitude.
The Beaver has but one purpose in life, to stop the flow of water. It is his Destiny, his Divine Plan. He is driven. The sound of moving water must be stopped. The sound is a bugle, a call to action. I know this. I have lived with these engineers for a while now. We are at loggerheads, these Beavers and I. I know. They know it. THEY know it, and that simply amazes me.
When he is successful in his work, the ecosystem changes. Water quality improves. The changes provide habitat for sensitive plant and animal species. Now I see muskrats and river otters, first time visitors to my personal shore.
Billy, (yes, I named him) moved in over a year ago. He weighs in at about 35 pounds. I’ve watched him snap saplings in half as if he were biting on French fries. I’ve seen his teeth marks at the ends of 3-inch diameter logs, chiseled to a point where he cut them. Wood serves as rebar in his dams. Yes dams, plural.
His first dam (remember, I did say ‘dams’) was where my pond drains into a brook that meanders down the hillside, finally emptying into a cove that is part of a major river. We battle daily. For a long while we were able to keep the water levels under control. In the morning the dam was broken to free the water. Then under the moonlight he rebuilt. We danced this waltz for months. Then, in late winter he decided to go hard at it, and he brought in a friend. Now there are 2 beavers. The second, a smaller version of Billy, whom I call Bob.
These guys are in it to win. They split most of the labor. Bob took charge of the dam at the mouth of the pond while Billy went to work in our swamp building a second, much larger dam. If Bob finished up early he would team up with Billy. They reduced the water flow to a mere trickle. The yard began flooding. My garden became so wet and mucky it began to grow bogs. We joked about planting rice. I hear you chuckling, imagining what it must be like shoveling this out several times a day.
Stay with me here, the metaphor is coming. But first, join me in awe.
There is nothing random about what these creatures do. Everything is deliberate. As maddening as they are I am enthralled by them. I have watched them assess the water current. I’ve seen them create a current to carry building material. I have watched them wedge logs under rocks, crisscross twigs and fill gaps with vegetation. I’ve seen them pack mud. They even bring in rocks, not little stones, rocks. There is a human quality to the way they use their front paws. I watch them swim, dragging their materials along in their mouths, branches many times their own length. And I am awed. My God is an awesome God, to design this long-toothed fur ball with such talent and discernment! They are engineers; they know what they are doing! During this battle of ours they have changed design, placement, materials used, to stop the water. And in this I find myself in child-like wonder of my Omniscient God. I am breathless at the detail of this creation. God, the most brilliant Master Mind. It puts me in a bright place of amazement laced with peace and beauty.
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
One day, in this battle over property rights, it came to me that if we humans are to succeed, if we are to overcome every adversity to our own Christhood, we must mirror the tenacity of the Beaver. I was hit right between the eyes with a spiritual metaphor.
I have reflected on this daily battle and find it similar to the spiritual tug of war we engage in. We face challenges, uncertainty, hardship, crises, failings, emotional wounds…… With regularity, some thing, some force threatens our communion, our attunement with God, the climb up the Ladder of the Ascension. We are distracted, taking our eye off the Prize. There can be a backsliding in our spiritual vibration, our attunement shaken. Biblically we might recognize this as The Adversary. The Dark Force that seeks to thwart our upward trek. Then there is testing. Confronted with our own karma, the scales must be balanced. What debt has come due for repayment, to balance the ledger of accountability?
The Spiritual climb is steep, made more so because we strayed from that original Oneness. We make our earthly bed. It is our own choice whether to lie in it or remake it. Following the mass consciousness isn’t hard work. Rising above it takes grit, determination – tenacity. We must be in the world yet not of the world. Abandonment of the goal comes with a cost. Just as giving up my Beaver War has a cost. I could let Billy and Bob do what beavers do. It requires effort to clear their handiwork. It takes time and it is physical labor – we’re not pitching hay here, this stuff is heavy! The alternative, doing nothing, will truly cause loss of property through flooding.
The Beaver has but one purpose, to stop water. This is his God ordained Divine Plan. He is single focused. He is unfazed by destruction of his work. I come out, more than once a day and tear down the dams. The beaver is unflappable, undeterred, focused on his Divine Plan. I can be considered the Adversary, returning karma, or any sinister force that wanders the earth to cause chaos, pain and suffering. And the beaver just rebuilds.
I imagine a conversation would go a little like this:
“Silly Beaver. You work so hard and your efforts are futile. I will simply come back and dismantle your work. You will never realize a permanent dam. Your efforts will be removed, the remnants washed away. You cannot succeed. Why don’t you just give up?!”
“Well, Madam, you could not be more wrong. And you are wrong because you lack understanding. God created me to do one thing, build dams. The Omniscient One created me perfectly for the work at hand – I have no excuse, I must perform. The drive is in my heart and my soul. My work pleases God. And no work blessed by God can be called futile.
My teeth are razor sharp to cut saplings and chew through vegetation. I have powerful jaws to uproot cattails and bogs and drag them to my work site. My paws are like hands. I can pack mud, move rocks, position logs and other material strategically to stop the flow of water. I have the skill to discern. I can assess currents. When my work is torn away, I ask ‘why’? Is it the location? The material? The size? Why is my work vulnerable? You have seen me alter design and placement. Me stop? At what cost? To say to God, this is too hard? ‘God, you designed me perfectly but this human has worn me down such that I will no longer honor your design of me through work.’ That would be to abdicate my Divine Plan! I would be selling out to an adversary because I met with challenge. God does not watch from his place of Glory in disappointment that my work isn’t standing up to your fork and hoe. Nay! God sees my tenacity, how I honor Him by trying again and again and again. I do the work I was sent to do. Every branch I lay, every day I try, is success in the eyes of God.”
The beaver has no sense of struggle. He works to honor God.
Now, read the above exchange and place adversity in the first paragraph and yourself in the second. Noodle over that for a while. What is your level of tenacity?
I am a Human Being, made in the image and likeness of God. I have a unique Divine Plan. I have karma to balance. I must be divorced from the sense of struggle and wed to the joy of the work. I must find peace in purpose and let it lift me. God cares not how I may trip, fall and roll backward. He cares only that I get up, set my eye on the Prize, look to the horizon and keep going.
Am I, a mortal whose life’s spark is the Fleur di Lis of God himself, not held at the very least to the standard of the animal kingdom? Shouldn’t I nurture that love and joy of service to life and God, embracing every challenge as have the Saints gone before me? At what cost do I give in and give up because the trek is hard?
Malachi 3-13:18, 4-1:3
13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”
16Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17“They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
4 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.
Living outside the Covenant with God. That is the cost.
Be as tenacious as the Beaver.