A Missed Opportunity

This morning, after Ella and I woke up, I went into the kitchen to get her cereal ready. I noticed that she was taking a long time to catch up. Usually, she’s right behind, hungry and ready to dig into her first breakfast after a long night of sleep. I poked my head out of the kitchen door to see where she was and saw her standing by the TV holding something in her hand. I couldn’t quite make out what it was: a stray piece of clothing perhaps, or one of her toys that had a string attached to the end.

“What do you have, Ella?” I asked as I walked out towards her. She just stood there. And then the shape came into clarity and I saw what it was. “Put it down, Ella.” I said quite firmly, perhaps too firmly, as I realized she was holding a big dead rat!

When we lived out in the country our cats would bring us “gifts” on a fairly regular basis: gophers, mice, moles, birds, all kinds of treasures from the wild world. So much so, in fact, that we had to watch where we walked at night, having stepped on more than one of their “gifts.” But since we’ve moved into town, they’ve become a bit lazy, and there are fewer opportunities to catch little critters. So we’ve gotten used to a house that is free of dead rodents.

So seeing Ella holding a dead rat took me a bit by surprise. After Ella dropped it, I told her that we needed to take it back outside and then wash our hands. And so we did.

End of story? Unfortunately, yes. After I dropped Ella off at pre-school it dawned on me that the Universe had just provided me with a perfect opportunity to speak to Ella about death. If you read my post from last night about The Weight of Death you might remember that one of the questions I’m asking right now is how to find the words to speak with her about the impending death of her grandfather. And this morning I was truly given a gift, a “teaching moment” as they say in the education world. And I totally missed it.

I was so caught up in the busyness of the morning, that, instead of seeing this unusual occurrence as an opportunity, I perceived it as an unexpected, and unwanted additional “task.”

I wonder how often these unexpected “tasks” that upset our normal routine are truly gifts from the Universe, opportunities to learn and grow. More often than not, would be my guess. But we are so focused on maintaining our normal life that we miss these opportunities. We are so focused on completing the tasks on our to-do list that, when a monkey wrench gets thrown in to our lives, we immediately look for a way to dispose of it, not realizing that it’s exactly the tool we needed to finish one of our other tasks!

So all I have to say about this morning’s rat is, “Thank you Universe for sending me such a perfect gift. I’m sorry I was not awake enough to take advantage of it. Next time, I intend to see the gift for what it is.”

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      6 Responses to “A Missed Opportunity”

      1. mind-mart on December 6th, 2006 10:57 pm

        You are truly evolved! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see a rat (dead or alive) as a gift 🙂

      2. Edward Mills on December 7th, 2006 9:01 am

        Hi Mind-mart

        I got a good laugh out of that! Thanks!!!


      3. Theresa on August 15th, 2007 5:36 pm

        Hi Ed!

        Your sidebar to this older post caught my eye since my we have had several deaths in the family over the past two years, and well I wanted to see what you had to say.

        The rat most definitely caught me by surprise, but it actually helped open my eyes. I’ll think I’ll try watching for those “gift rats” and other oddities a lot more closely from now on.


      4. Edward Mills on August 15th, 2007 9:08 pm

        Theresa, I can assure you that the rat took ME be surprise also! It was only after the fact that I realized I had missed an opportunity.

      5. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker on August 27th, 2007 10:35 pm

        It is so easy to miss opportunities like this when we simply get caught up in the day-to-day activities of our lives. Hindsight is better than no sight at all. You still could have had the conversation about death when your daughter came home from school, maybe not as impactful as when it happened but still an opportunity.

      6. George Burnham on February 19th, 2008 12:21 pm

        “A Missed Opportunity” really put a smile on my face. I look forward to reading more.

        The Universe certainly gives us many “gifts”. I choose to find the beauty in as many things as I can… though it can be challenging for sure. With some ingenuity or thoughtfulness… a pause to reflect, we can often see these “gifts”, though frequently and oddly highly disguised!

        Thank you…

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