The Sacredness of Life

Gunnar and the neighborhood kids found two dead squirrels yesterday, an adult and a baby. They were probably killed by a cat.
Today I came out to find that they had used a stick to move one of them into the street so they could watch cars run over them, as boys will do. I heard their screams of glee as they watched what happened. I told Gunnar that was enough, and he grew bored and came inside.
Once he was settled I had a conversation with him. I addressed the natural curiosity of boys, the fact that he saw what was inside a squirrel (I would have preferred if he learned it through hunting and cleaning an animal) for the first time, and the life process. This involved the beginning of squirrel life, that squirrels mate for life and mourn their dead, all the way to decay and it’s benefits. Then I talked to him about why WE should not treat the bodies of dead animals with disrespect, and that all life serves a purpose. This led to questions about the spirit and another brief discussion. I made sure to let him know that he was not in trouble for his actions, but from now on I expected him to take a different view when encountering such things.
The whole time I was remembering when I was his age and had found a dead bird. In my inability to reconcile death at such a young age, I instead made a game out of it. It was innocence and naivete, and probably an undefined fear. What is death? What is this dead creature for? Those questions could not be answered at the time because I had no answers nor anyone to ask. With my son I saw an opportunity to give form to the unformulated.

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