by Bob Perks
Most of the others had already gone. Dusk was settling in and the skies were partly cloudy offering very little light from the moon. She stayed right where she was for the longest time only moving whenever another would join her. I watched from a distance worried that she would stay too late. It just wasn’t safe there in the darkness. I won’t even try to explain why this was happening. I held for the longest time the thought of the last time I was put in this predicament and struggled with any deeper hidden meaning in all of this for me. I would guess most everyone else would just shrug it all off.
Not me. I often times feel so in touch with life that it sometimes becomes overwhelming. Times like this make me both elated and angry. Elated because I feel like God is preparing me for something. Angry, because I take it to heart so much so that I feel somewhat immature and certainly far from being a "manly" 55 year old male. Still, I have been this way all of my life. I am proud of my connections to life itself. I rejoice in the idea that God trusts me with such things.
So, why should this time be such a big thing in my life? Because I saw it as an honor and privilege to be a part of this. Because I saw it as something bigger.
This may seem all too familiar to you. Perhaps you will begin to think I am making it all up. I am not. That, in itself, is why I am convinced that God is working on me. To what end? I do not know. But I am keenly aware that He is. Perhaps it was simply disbelief that made me keep my distance. Maybe I was fighting the need to get involved. Or maybe I was making something bigger out of simple coincidence.
It was now beginning to get dark. I checked one more time and thought at first that everything was all right. As I was about to return to my home, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. I walked slowly toward the area and found the small bird crouched next to the fence. "Not again," I said quietly.
I began talking to it as I always do. Moving closer to see if it was injured, I could see that it looked perfectly fine. I reached down to try and touch it, hoping that it would fly away. It didn’t. I know. This sounds very much like one of my earlier stories. I really hesitated to share it with you fearing you might think I’m making all of this up.
Frankly, I have a hard time believing it, too.
Touching the bird gently, it scampered a few feet and stopped. This time I squatted nearby. It actually crawled to me. I mean it came right toward my feet and stopped, looked up almost begging for my attention. I reached down and gently stroked the bird. It chirped a dull, almost inaudible sound. In the dimming light I couldn’t see what kind of bird it was so I picked it up. Without struggle in settled in the palm of my hand. It was a female cardinal.
I felt this calm come over me. I took my right hand and gently wrapped my fingers around the bird so I could hold it closer. She too, seemed very much at peace. I heard one more small chirp and I began to rub my left index finger on her belly. She slowly turned her head left and right. She appeared to be an older bird. Her beak was rough in spots and slightly stained from a long life of rummaging for food. Only a few minutes had passed when I realized she wasn’t moving. Touching her head it slumped to the right. She was dead.
"Oh, God, thank you!" I whispered looking up.
I walked over to the bench we have in the back yard and sat there looking at this bird. I don’t know how to describe what I was feeling at the moment, but I was completely unaware of anything else around me.
Like a curious child I began speaking to it. "Where have you been?" I asked.
Can you imagine for a moment the things this bird could see?
"Tell me of the heights you have reached in your short life", I continued.
"Where did you come from and how far have you gone?"
"What’s it like up there on a summer’s day?"
I could imagine being lifted up by the rising air currents, diving toward the ground and finally swooping upward again like an angel without limitations of gravity.
"Have you had any offspring and a mate that will miss you?" How silly a question, I thought.
"How silly of me, a grown man, to be sitting here at all speaking to a dead bird.," I said.
But I thank God for who I am, what I’ve become and all He has planned for me. I’ll share another thing with you. I held the bird up high above my head and asked God, "Why have you given me this special moment?"
No, I heard nothing in reply.
I sat another minute and then planned on what I would do with this beautiful creature. It was now my responsibility, I thought, to not let it lay somewhere in the open for some stray cat or other animal to feed on.
Directly behind where I was seated is a small rock garden I created a few years ago. Two tall trellis walls form a back drop to what I always thought as a peaceful setting. How appropriate.
I picked up one of the smaller flat rocks near the center and clearing away some dirt, I placed this special gift from God on its side.
"Thank you!" I said, as I gently covered the bird.
I waited for a few minutes before heading inside. I walked upstairs and into our bedroom. My wife had already crawled under the covers watching one of the old movies on television.
"What’s wrong?" she asked. "I can tell by the look on your face."
I went on to tell her the story. I love her deeply, but I know she is like most other people when it comes to things like this. Her practical side would be to ask me if I washed my hands. I could almost hear my mother say, "You shouldn’t be picking up birds. You can get sick."
Not if God asked me to do it. He did.
Oh, these sudden encounters with animals might be nothing at all. I’d like to think, if nothing else, God knows how much I appreciate His creatures. To think He would trust me to hold a dying cardinal, that’s something else.
"Perhaps a gift."
"I believe in You!"
I encourage you to share my stories with your friends but, when copying I ask that you keep my name and contact information attached so that new readers can find their way here. Use of this story for commercial use is prohibited without direct permission from the author.
Submitted by your friend and mine Madeleine.