Bats in the Bedroom, by Laura Neff
It was about 11:00 p.m. when I heard my husband Robert hollar, “WOAH!!!” from the bedroom.
I could tell this was a hollar that signaled, “HELP NEEDED, NOW,” versus an exclamation produced by seeing something cool on his iPad. Sure enough, as I leapt down the stairs two at a time, I heard, “THERE’S A BIRD IN HERE. CAN YOU PLEASE HELP?”
In the home we share with two dogs and three indoor/outdoor young cats, we have an agreement: if a critter is alive and in the house, it’s my job to catch and release. If it’s dead, Robert’s on clean-up duty. This was clearly an “alive” situation, and realizing that, I took a deep breath as my feet touched the first floor, steadying my energy to interact calmly with our frightened feathered guest.
As I skidded to a halt in the bedroom door, I could see something whirling fast around the room in absolutely perfect circles, flying at a level just under the whirring ceiling fan, not touching a thing. As I looked closer, I noticed an umbrella-like outline on its wings. Our visitor was a large bat!
This wasn’t the first time we’ve had an extra-unexpected wild visitor in our home. As such, we’ve both learned that moments like this are a true choice point.
The machinery that we humans walk/talk/breathe within has an instinct for fight or flight when confronted with an unexpected wild visitor, and in our experience, it definitely leans toward panic.
But our mutual love of Nature, our mutual stand for experiencing it fully, and our mutual delight and awe in such rare interactions with it (despite our racing hearts) has, time and again, had us both be able to get on top of our machinery, get present to what’s happening, and appreciate the incredible thing we’re witnessing.
Our bat friend zoomed out of the bedroom and started flying in laps around the open intricacies of our downstairs layout, perfectly navigating around pillars, walls, a staircase, and a pot rack. We quickly and quietly turned off lights and opened doors and windows, then hunched down in the dark to watch its racing shadow. And then just like that, it was gone.
We still spoke in hushed voices for the next few minutes, marveling at its sonar and deftness and speed and silence. It was an experience neither of us will forget.
No matter what’s happening, the ability to climb up on top of our machinery’s instincts always creates a wider landscape of possibility and choice in the moment. From there, we can see and remember who we are, what we stand for, and what we’re cultivating in this life of ours. Meditation, prayer, any stillness practice creates greater access in the moments when it counts.
And that’s good, because those moments almost always come unexpectedly!