Fr Hugh O’Donnell is a poet and ministers with the Salesian community in the parish of Sean McDermott Street in Dublin. He shares the following reflection with us, entitled ‘All Sleeping Things’:
Though I mark out a territory and call it ‘mine’ there are other creatures who also call it home and raise their families there. They know the local scene and have a favourite place from which to view the world; hence all the nest building, burrowing and looking for a hideout to winter in. Take a hedgehog, for instance, who can ramble up to two kilometres a night, the one Peter found inside his back door recently. His first thought was that it had snuck in for a little warmth as the door was open; then climbed onto the dog’s sofa, curled up and went to sleep. Later he had to concede it had to be Mack who had carried in the spiky ball from the garden and placed it there. Generally, we are ignorant of the lives of other creatures despite being one extended family. So even a fly in a room can lead to consternation and imaginings of plague or simply ‘disease’. Or a wasp in autumn who has reasons for drawing attention to itself; being homeless, hungry and ‘all over the place’. It seems we are biodiverse-averse and find it difficult to believe that a Creator could make a buzzing sound or wear a crown of thorns. When God introduces himself in the shape of another creature its as if he invites us to replace the word ‘mine’ with ‘ours’. ‘All sleeping things are children’ writes Jenny George in ‘The Sleeping Pig’ – the hedgehog, the refugee and the pig.