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Erethizon Dorsatum

Erethizon Dorsatum

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way….” (Isaiah 53:6) “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

How do you pursue this beautiful dream of community and relationships with actual, real-life, imperfect people?

Let me tell you about the North American Common Porcupine. He has 30,000 quills attached to his body. He protects himself by driving a quill into the body of an enemy, and the enemy’s body heat causes the microscopic barb on each quill to expand and become even more firmly embedded. The wounds from porcupine quills can fester and can even be deadly in some situations.

He’s not very lovable. His Latin name is erethizon dorsatum, “the irritable back.” Because of this, he travels alone. As a general rule, porcupines have two ways of handling relationships: attack or withdraw. They either head for a tree or stick out their quills.

We’re a lot like porcupines. Fight or flight. We carry our own little arsenal of quills. We call these barbs rejection, condemnation, legalism, resentment, arrogance, selfishness, envy, and contempt. Most of us do fairly well hiding them, but if you get too close, you’ll find them. And these quills will burrow under your skin, fester, and even kill. So, like the porcupines, we learn to either attack or withdraw. We shoot our own barbs back, or we hide behind walls we build.

Porcupines and people have a similar dilemma: how do we get close without getting hurt? Well, in God’s incredible world, miracles happen…for porcupines and for people. Occasionally, porcupines will share space with other porcupines. Since they’re not extinct, Momma and Papa Porcupine have discovered a way to make Baby Porcupines. They learn to keep their barbs to themselves.

Naturalist David Costello writes, “Male and female [porcupines] may remain together for some days before mating. They may touch paws and even walk on their hind feet in the so-called ‘dance of the porcupines.’” Only God could have thought that up.

Let’s learn to dance! Join us Sunday for the first sermon in our series, “Nobody’s Perfekt.”


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