The Least of These

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Rising early, before sunrise, has never been an easy discipline for me, especially after working the night before well past sunset.  It’s always been a curiosity how waking just before a deliberately set alarm seems to be an unconscious attempt to avoid hearing the predictable “you’ve gotta get up” ringtone, annoyingly repeating itself until a sound sleeper complies.  The last day in October, after a restless night of waking several times before daybreak, was no exception.  Thankfully, I awoke before the “rise and shine” signal bypassed the airplane mode setting of my phone.

Cooler temperatures and more refreshing ocean breezes had recently helped dissipate the lingering heat and humidity of a summer refusing to move on.   In previous years, early September had not only meant Back-to-School time, but it had also brought a welcomed relief from the incessant summer heat of the most southeastern state of the US.  However, this year, Red Tide had been hanging about with its deadly algae blooms, causing fish and manatee kills, and numerous beach closures, after a major hurricane.  There seemed to have been a canopy of noxious air and irritants trapped by an invisible hand, making it hard to stay outside for long, much less enjoy fall festivities, as Trick-or-Treaters poised to brave Halloween, taking booty from treasure chests of teeth rotting, hyper-activity inducing candy.  Heading into November, one could only hope the worst of Florida’s summer was releasing its death grip and transitioning into a more welcoming mode for returning Snowbirds and seasonal tourists, who’d been keeping their distance.

On track to make my way back to work, after nightmares of not being able to clock in on time, I considered it was October 31st when the work of demons and divisive spirits stir their brew.  Opening the back door to let my dogs out in the yard, before I put my own mojo on to kick- start the day, I noticed something small and dark on the top step of the scallop-shaped stairs descending into the cool waters of a small inground pool guests have referred to as a “Texas-sized bathtub”.  This morning it appeared to be a Texas-sized bird bath for a seemingly frozen 8- inch bird with iridescent indigo feathers and a small hooked beak. Steady eyes stared back at me from a slightly turned head, though its body remained motionless until I bent down to look at it more carefully and determine whether it was dead or alive.  Its smalls eyes blinked and its hooked beak opened in silent warning, summoning all its strength to slowly spread saturated wings, revealing brilliant blue spots beneath the splayed tail feathers.  As I spoke to it calmly, telling the little bird I meant to help, its wings retracted and its beak closed, though it continued to stare at me.

Going inside to find my gardening gloves, an old hand-towel, and box where the bird might rest until I could take it by a wildlife veterinarian (not exactly on my way to work) but now a priority, I wondered what had happened to the small creature.  The dogs hadn’t made their usual dash to chase squirrels up and down the electric lines or up into palm trees, and they hadn’t seemed to notice the bird in the pool.  Could the small bird have intended to take a bath, but found the water deeper than imagined, or was the water too cold?

As I reached down around the bird with gloved hands, it didn’t struggle when I lifted it onto the old blue hand-towel.  It seemed to slump to one side, so I bunched the towel up to give it support.  Its feet seemed limp and dysfunctional; and as the bird’s breast became visible, I saw a small thin bodied black wasp hanging.  Pinching the wasp off the bird and smashing it with my sandal, I then lifted the bird to a shaded spot on a table under an umbrella.  It blinked and looked at me, but didn’t seem to be able to upright itself, so I gently bundled the towel around its limp body and placed it in a small box.

I found myself saying aloud:   “Lord, you care even when a sparrow falls to the ground. Please heal this young bird.”  I placed the box in another shady spot on the front porch where I planned to collect it on my way out the door, anticipating the unexpected event would make me late for work if I didn’t get moving.   As my Mom headed to the front door with her dog on leash, I called out to steer clear of the box on the porch.  (She later told me the bird seemed to be resting, as she’d left to walk her small dog.)

Periodically, I’d look out to be sure the bird was all right, but after showering and getting my lunch together and finally hurrying out the door, thinking I’d have to make a stop at the animal sanctuary, I turned to pick up the box but the bird was gone.  The impression of the body was still in the towel and only a small blue and white feather remained.  I quickly looked around the front yard, up in the sky and in nearby trees, but didn’t see the small bird anywhere; all the while my heart leaping inside me with gratitude and amazement.

Believe what you like, but what I thought and still do is that God healed the fledgling bird and it found new strength to fly away …. or an Angel came and took it to a safer place where it was given a new song to sing.  (An interesting fact:   Since none of us at work had a first appointment, all of the employees where in the waiting room as I entered, excited to tell the story about the rescue of a small bird and how God hears simple, heart-felt prayers in the midst of our busy schedules.  There was no fear or concern about what they thought when I said: “God healed that little bird….or sent an Angel to take it home!”)

 

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”        (Matthew 10: 28,29)

 

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these ……of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

 

According to Native American legend:  feather from a falcon symbolizes soul healing, speed and movement.  Hawks symbolize being able to see the bigger picture with spiritual discernment and clarity of vision.  The appearance of a hawk means to trust your inner guidance, gut instincts, and the evolution of a “higher self” calling you upward….to be keenly aware through observation, then act decisively when the time is right.

 

“If not now, tell me when?  If not now, tell me when?

We may never see this moment of place in time again.

 If not now, if not now, tell me when?

I see sorrow and trouble in this land. I see sorrow and trouble in this land.

And though there will be struggle, we’ll make the change we can;

If not now, if not now, tell me when?”

                                   (lyrics by Carrie Newcomer, “If Not Now”)

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