Religion Magazine

On Hedgehogs and Happiness

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard
On Hedgehogs and HappinessOn Hedgehogs and HappinessOn Hedgehogs and HappinessOn Hedgehogs and HappinessOn Hedgehogs and Happiness

Our daughter, Bronwynn, was recently given a hedgehog named, Bella. A friend once described hedgehogs as “unspeakably adorable” and it’s true. Bella is perky and precocious. With curiosity in every expression, Bella, approaches life with expectation and a sense of adventure.

Bella brings me happiness. And I think she could school us all in a little joy.

  • Bella expects to find something each day. She wears curiosity with confidence. What might the world give? What gifts might she receive?
  • Bella takes joy in simple things. Her favorite toy is an empty toilet roll! It’s really just a simple cardboard tube but she attacks it with enthusiasm each time. She pushes her head into it enthusiastically and pushes it around. If you try to take it off her head she gets a little annoyed.
  • Bella doesn’t really like getting a bath but she endures it for the joy of a good belly rub! She huffs and puffs and growls and groans until it’s over…but when the belly love begins she settles down with sweet contentment. She relaxes. The hard part is over. Let the party start. Her breathing slows and she nearly always falls asleep, a happy, happy hedgehog.
  • Underneath the quills and hard prickly exterior, Bella is a tender creature. She wants you to think she’s quite fierce….a (quite tiny) force to be reckoned with! But if you are brave enough to get close (and every quill on her little exterior dares you not to!) and scoop her up she melts. She settles into friendship. She was needy all along…she just didn’t want you to think so! There is a fragile type of vulnerable joy in that.
  • Bella experiences some anxiety in new situations. She straightens all her pins and starts to breath heavy, like an old man snoring with a pillow over his head! Her anxiety rarely lasts long. She adjusts. She accommodates a new sound, a new experience, a new scent. Soon, and it doesn’t seem to take her too long, she relaxes and begins to explore again. I suspect the new and scary moments seem long to her. She makes all types of protesting sounds. But from our taller perspective, looking down at her wee world, we can see an end. The dog will walk past, the vacuuming will be done eventually, the bath will be over, the television will be turned down. The trouble will end. Our perspective accommodates the broader picture, the bigger reality. We don’t stress over her agonies because we know they are temporary. She will get through this. Hedgehog horrors come in the evening moments but joy comes in a morning moment.
  • Bella knows she is loved. She is sure of it. She lives out of that reality. Every morning (or actually night….for Bella is, alas, nocturnal!) she wakes and stretches and gets busy being who she was created to be: A Hedgehog! There is great happiness in that simple purpose.

 Do you have pets? How have they schooled you in joy? 


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