Once upon a time, there was a cute little squirrel named Sylvia. Sylvia was the youngest of twenty, and she lived with her family and dozens of other squirrel families in a stand of Blue Spruces known as Blue Point Ridge. Being a squirrel in Blue Point Ridge was serious business. Young squirrels were not encouraged to be curious and were warned to avoid distractions, and they were taught the squirrel code very early on: Squirrels were always to look out for one another and to take nut gathering with the utmost seriousness.
Sylvia was not serious in the way the other squirrels were. While the young squirrels would dash along the floor of the Ridge looking for nuts, Sylvia perched in a cozy spruce and gazed thoughtfully at the beautiful, symmetrical branches surrounding her. Sometimes she would simply marvel at the beauty of the Ridge and ponder how it came to be. And if a racoon or stray cat or dog encroached on their territory, the others would chatter their curses at the intruder while Sylvia wondered what had brought it so close. Her siblings and friends found Sylvia to be downright annoying as they were always trying to find her as she wandered in the woods, and her parents and elder squirrels were always scolding her for her unserious ways.
It was a short walk to squirrel school, but it was one that Sylvia enjoyed immensely. The path led out of Blue Point Ridge for a bit, and Sylvia loved the open country, the bubbling creek, and the lush green valley just beyond. But her classmates did not like that section of the route so much. They would hop and chatter along their way, but when they left the secluded protection of the Ridge, the unfamiliar creek became an object of fear and they hurried past.
One drizzly Fall morning, Sylvia and the other young squirrels were trotting to school, and when they came in sight of the creek, her companions shrieked and sprinted the rest of the way to school as Sylvia stared. The creek was shrouded in a glistening mist. Sylvia crept toward the mysterious sight. It wasn’t that she wasn’t afraid; but she was overwhelmed with curiosity. As she stared into the mist, she thought she saw a shimmering figure in the mist, almost like a holograph. When the figure disappeared, she shrugged her shoulders in bewilderment and followed her classmates to school.
At bedtime that evening, Sylvia told her story to her mother. “Sylvia!” exclaimed her mother. “Now you are being downright silly! Please be a good little girl squirrel…. Please be serious!”
It was a particularly rainy September and October, and the mist appeared more regularly over the creek. The little squirrel students developed the habit of dashing past the area as fast as they could go, arriving early and breathless at school. Except Sylvia. She developed the habit of inching closer to the creek and standing before the glistening figure in the creek mist. She found it both frightening and irresistible. After a few days, she found herself awed by the figure and started to bow her head in respect before continuing her journey to school.
And then one day, Sylvia made the mistake of mentioning her time with the mist figure to a few friends during noon playtime. They stopped and stared at her almost in disbelief, and then burst into an avalanche of laughter. “Sylvia is silly!” “Sylvia is silly!” they chanted around the garden, and soon the entire school knew. Her teachers became concerned, and the principal threatened to dismiss her. When her parents confronted her, Sylvia could only explain what she saw and felt. Her parents feared for her mental health and scolded her soundly: “Sylvia, stop this nonsense right now! This is too silly!” And they begged her to be a serious little squirrel.
Sylvia was very sad. She knew she was not silly. She knew there was more to the world than what the other squirrels could see. She didn’t know who the figure was, but she did know she wanted to know. It was so hard to not be able to talk to anyone about it, but she continued to linger by the creek on rainy days.
And then one day it happened. A storm came upon the Blue Point Ridge one evening just as the young squirrels were settling in their nests. Lightning lit up the sky above, and thunder drowned out the cries of terrified squirrels. Suddenly the situation became life-threatening as a tree in the middle of the Ridge sustained a direct lightning hit and caught on fire; and then the fire started to spread with alarming speed. Before long, the entire Ridge was ablaze and squirrel families were racing for their lives.
The rain came, but not in time to save their homes. Running blindly in the most familiar direction, the ragged groups of squirrel families came to the creek. They stopped in their tracks as Sylvia walked forward, her eyes fixed on the figure in the mist. Bowing before the figure, she was able to see the last thing she expected to see: a tiny bridge formed from debris that had collect in this shallow section of the creek. She looked closely at the mist figure and was sure she saw a smile. Sylvia turned and shouted, waving her arms in excitement. “This way! We can cross the creek here!” She couldn’t see their faces, but their reluctance was clear by their lack of response.
The fire raged behind them until eventually, the squirrel families had no choice but to try to cross the creek. Sylvia kept waving her arms and shouted words of encouragement as the first few families took their first tentative steps across the makeshift bridge. Before long, the entire group was across the bridge, safe from the fire, and scouting out the nearby forest for a satisfactory place to begin a new colony.
Once again, Sylvia lingered, glancing at the mist figure who remained. She bowed and whispered, “Thank You!” As she walked toward her new home, she cast one last glance at the figure. She was sure He winked.
And from that time on, none of the squirrels called Sylvia silly. She had earned a new nickname: “Spiritual Sylvia.”