Opossums can teach us a thing or two…

Ahh! A dangerous creature that will bite!! The teeth are so sharp, look at the evil in its eyes! And don’t forget the naked rat tail, yuck!

That’s what we thought when we got a good look at the object of our dogs’ barking one night in our yard. We shone a flashlight around and caught sight of this monstrous face hiding in the rosebushes. For thirty minutes my dad poked a broom at the opossum to try to get it to move into the temporary trap we had created. I held my phone up to light up the area, staying out of the way. My mom may or may not have been holding a gardening spade. We were all mentally prepared to defend ourselves if it attacked.

Grumpy opossum picture from Google

Except it didn’t. It shuffled this way and that, nudged by the broom, and opened its mouth threateningly, but that was about it. Eventually, we herded it into a little zipper tent (originally meant for the dogs), and it quietly sat there, occasionally showing its sharp teeth but not much else. I guess we didn’t secure the tent too well because it got away that night. Oh well, no harm done. We shrugged and didn’t regret it too much.

The truth was that this animal we encountered was so meek and gentle that we were puzzled – I was expecting a slavering beast intent on biting us, but this creature seemed actually…polite. “Oops, sorry for getting in your way. You want me to go here? Sorry, yes sir, I’m going, I’m going, if you want me to…My apologies, dear sirs, honored madams, I’ll just…move here, I guess? To be honest, I’d really prefer to not go in there…oh all right, if you insist.” It could have been a creature from Narnia, it had that much character. There was not a mean bone in its body, even though we were clearly disturbing its peace.

Ah, good morning, neighbor!

The opossum kept coming back, judging by the dogs’ incessant barking and also the fact that an entire bag of dog food had been ripped open. We had to be careful to close our storage container really well after that.

Then one morning we managed to capture the opossum under a crate. Throughout the day I watched the animal’s behavior carefully, and saw that while it did open its mouth to reveal its teeth, it made no move to attack or really defend itself, even when the dogs barked at it. Drool leaked from its open jaws, and its coarse gray fur exuded a deathly stink. I looked up more about opossums and discovered that these are the tools it intentionally uses to convince a predator that it is very sick and nasty to eat. Opossums rarely attack and would prefer to use defense mechanisms instead, often rolling over to play dead (apparently involuntarily…like falling into a coma).

I’m dead!!! I’m deeeeeead, oh Lord have mercy

We provided some food and water to our gentle prisoner, but at the end of the day, my dad ended up opening the crate and letting it free. The opossum apparently just looked up at him in polite disbelief, so my dad waved his hand at it, saying, “Go! Go!” Then it apologetically waddled out and disappeared into the evening. I never saw or heard from it again, which makes me a little worried and sad because I frequently see roadkill on the streets. I hope it’s living a good life.

The word that we kept using to describe this creature was “meek.” It made me think about how I respond when I feel like I’m in danger or armed forces are rising against me – I’m automatically ready to fight back, tooth and nail, ready to defend myself. But the opossum I met did not have a tendency to fight. There was not a hint of aggression in it at all. I am reminded of Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” That opossum actually had a pretty beautiful spirit…so whenever I see one now creeping through the shadows with that hunched, shuffling gait, I’m not disgusted like I used to be. Instead I can’t help but smile and think how cute it is! And any animal that eats cockroaches, snakes, rats, and ticks is a highly esteemed friend of mine.

Cute!

Then again…yes, opossums can be unwanted guests sometimes, and I commend Sarah L. for her herculean courage in grabbing one with her bare hands. From under the sink. That’s a story we need to hear too…

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8 months ago

Clarification– there was a plastic or paper bag between my hand and the possum; I wouldn’t have done it with my bare hands.
And the poor possum had been snagged by a mouse trap.
No Herculean effort there. Just sympathetic and fed up with hearing noises in the CL kitchen

  SHLingberg
8 months ago

That was still very brave! 🤣. I remember we call animal control and they rejected us 😅😅 tell us to shove them back under sink 🤣🤣

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  aileen0711
8 months ago

I agree with Aileen. That was still very brave! Our sisters are indeed warriors! Haha…..

Shoving back under sink? 🤦‍♂️

But, how did that possum get into the house? Was there a hole under the sink?

8 months ago

Wow, another reason not to question God’s decisions. I used to ask, “God, why did you make this animal? Why this insect? Why spiders and cockroaches? And mosquitoes!!” But everything has a purpose. And now I know that God created opossums to teach us meekness.

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  bub4life
8 months ago

Haha. Maybe, God really created some of these creatures to teach us something. It is interesting to see that even non-believers now try to learn from these animals that God created.

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  Brian_154
8 months ago

Spiders? Spiders are fine. Some of them are very beautiful and have cute eyes. Most importantly, they feed on mosquitoes too. Indeed, every creature that God created has a purpose.

8 months ago

This is not a characteristic that is easily seen in the world and neither are possums in a backyard tent, although I also once thought about bringing an injured one home once. However, it is wonderful when I have seen it in people like some brothers at the church. I pray to come to learn this character all the more.

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  ikovalen
8 months ago

Haha. You should’ve brought the possum into the house, and maybe, fed it with the common life bananas. Then, it can be our pet. XD

8 months ago

It’s amazing – you went from judging the creature as a menacing one to then having your eyes opened to its true character – of meekness and gentleness. I absolutely love the way you unraveled the story before my eyes, I felt like I was reading a tiny little novel on a far away friend of mine in Gardena. Haha. Beautifully written, well done on your efforts to reveal the glory of God on one of the creatures God has so wonderfully created. Perhaps you can start a Gardena Garden Creatures series? I would be happy to learn more about all the furry(and non-furry) friends that we can learn a Biblical lesson from. 😆 Jesus Christ makes everything beautiful in our lives and works all messy and good things out into a wonderful masterpiece. 🙂👍 God bless you!! -Alexandra

8 months ago

Hahahha. This was a hilarious yet touching post. It reminds me of that old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Maybe they look ugly, but when God made them he said, “Good!” Knowing that God was pleased with each creation is so touching. And it reminds me of college students as well. When God created them and sent them into the world, they were precious. They just need some TLC haha. And that’s why we are sent to them. Indeed, great lessons from possums!

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8 months ago

My word, I cannot believe that you wanted to hurt this cute and intriguing creature. But I’m glad that it left the house being blessed. Haha.

As I read your post, I am being amazed at God’s wisdom in creating this creature. Involuntarily and convincingly playing dead? Who would’ve come up with such an interesting defense mechanism besides God? Then, its meekness too. I definitely need to learn to be meek like this possum instead of shrieking, scratching, and attacking others like a cat. But maybe, without the menacing look too.