Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Struggling Dove

Today, as I was driving to the parking lot at the mall, I was approaching a small object moving around on the road. As I drove closer, I finally saw that the moving object was a poor frail pigeon that had injured its wing. It tried to use its strong wing to lift it up off the ground. Its struggle was painful to watch. I started to drive past and a pain hit me in my chest. It needs help. Then, I thought...bird flu. What if it bites me? What can I do to help? So, I dismissed myself from doing anything. But, the pain it was obviously feeling, pained me as well. As a fellow creature, shouldn't I help it? Can I let the bird stay in pain?

I made a U-turn and parked my car in a spot not far away. I walked across the road and stood over the bird. It saw me and its will to fly away was even stronger. The drivers in the oncoming cars on the other side of the street looked at me to see what I was doing. I assessed the situation and went and got a magazine out of my car...hoping I would be able to move the bird over into the bushes where it could be in peace and not have the risk of being run over.

The pigeon made a slight sound from its throat. It wasn't quite a sqwuak, but almost an escaping whisper. His feathers were a beautiful grey, so soft and heathered looking. The tips were white. Perhaps this wasn't a pigeon, but a dove? His big black eyes were innocent and full of fear as I approached him with the magazine. I began to put the magazine under the bird and then found myself jumping back slightly when the bird's beak moved in my direction.

I slowly began again and the breathy gasps continued to come out of its yellow beak. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I finally got the bird's entire body onto the magazine. My chest ached for the hurt this animal was in. I started sobbing as I scooted the magazine across the gravel and onto the side of the road in the bushes. The bird was still struggling to take flight.

Once the magazine bed with its bird occupant was by the green leafy bush, I crouched down and looked at him. He kept moving around and looking up at me. I so wanted to pet him and feel the soft down that was still showing from under his wing. He was still a baby. I didn't know what else to do. I felt helpless. If I was knowledgeable with birds I would take him home. But, what could I do? I just leaned over the bird and prayed. I prayed that God would make him better or otherwise take him out of his misery. When I opened my eyes, the bird wasn't moving around anymore. I gasped, certain that the bird had died. Instinctively, I lightly tapped the magazine. The bird's head looked up at me. Was he saying "thank you?"

Every single day, we live and work with other people. And so often we watch them struggle on their own. We are afraid to help. We are afraid of what we may find. We are afraid to get to close and feel a deep connection. This emotion and ability to connect is what makes us human. Why do we deny it?

Ryan, my husband, he understands this need to connect. Just the other day, as we were driving home, we encountered someone stuck in the intersection. Without thinking, Ryan jumped out of the car and helped the man push his stranded vehicle to the nearest gas station. As I watched him do this act of kindness, I was never prouder to say...that's my husband. What a good man he is! He is the kind of person more people should strive to be.

Life is a struggle. Life is turmoil. We are all like the dove on the side of the road. What would it be like if we were all left to struggle alone? What an existence that would be. We should hold a hand out to one another.