Last week, as I was out in the yard picking up sticks, investigating new blooms on my flowers, and trying to figure out why my compost pile hasn’t turned to dirt yet, I noticed something caught in the wire fencing around Precious’ dog run. It looked like a dead leaf, sort of. Yet it also seemed to be fuzzy.
As I got closer, I realized that it was a little bird that had wedged itself into one of the cross sections of the fence and was holding on for dear life. I got fairly close to the bird, trying to determine if it was injured. It seemed to be able to move its wings ok, and it adjusted its legs from time to time. It even did a cute little hiss at me by opening its beak and sticking out its tongue. But under no circumstances did it seem remotely interested in flying away. I went on my way, assuming he would eventually go on his way, and I didn’t really think another thing of it.
The next morning, when I peeked out the window, I saw the bird still there. It must have had a long night perching on that thin wire, I thought. But I had to get to work, and there just wasn’t time to get involved any further.
When the bird was still there that evening, I began to get worried. I walked back out to have a closer look, but I still couldn’t detect any injury. On this second examination, however, I realized that this was a very young bird, and if I had to guess, I would say that he had embarked on his first flight and gotten no further than my fence before he realized how terrified he was.
His terror was growing by the minute, however, as I began to talk to him and offer him a spoon full of bird food as a snack. He had been hanging onto my fence for more than 24 hours, and he was surely hungry. But when a giant tries to pour bird seed down your throat with a plastic stick, an empty stomach is not exactly the most pressing item on your list of concerns, I guess.
Later that evening and the next morning I went back out to the fence and tried to convince him that he was strong enough to continue his journey. I talked as soothingly as I could; I even tried threatening him into flying by letting my dog come out and sniff around him. Nothing worked. I couldn’t persuade him to fly.
When I looked out the window to check on him in the evening of the third day, I noticed that he had moved slightly, though he was still on the fence. But even more importantly, he was no longer alone. A second bird now sat right next to him and was chirping encouragingly. I was relieved. It’s one thing to be afraid during your first attempt at flying. It’s entirely another to get left behind.
I walked outside to look at the birds to make sure they weren’t both stuck on my fence, and immediately the new bird flew away, leaving my little friend alone again. But the new bird didn’t go very far. After watching me for a minute or two to determine that I was not going to hurt them, the other bird came back. Still chirping excitedly.
Not wanting to interrupt what was obviously an important intervention, I came back inside, but I prayed for the little bird who didn’t think he could go on. There’s nothing worse than being stuck, so I asked the Lord to give him courage. And I thanked him for the brother or sister, or maybe it was his mother, who was there to see him through.
Amazingly (or maybe not so much), within a few minutes I looked back out the window and both birds were gone. I laughed out loud and thanked the Lord. Not only for being a caring creator who knows even when a sparrow is hanging on for dear life to the side of a wire fence, but especially for being a Father to a woman who too often feels stuck in the loneliness and fear of her own life.
What a God — who chose not to be just a giant with a plastic spoon to us but a feathered friend who knew what it was like to learn how to fly.
Tomorrow morning, on the suggestion of my oncologist, I am meeting with a genetic counselor. Because endometrial cancer is a very unusual diagnosis for a young woman, I am being considered as a possible carrier of Lynch Syndrome, a genetic predisposition which will put me at a higher risk to develop colon cancer. Please pray that I will remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made regardless of the outcome, and that no cancer is more powerful than my Jesus.