Posted by: geolocke | 2015/05/07

Fallen From The Nest

This morning I was walking the dogs around in the back yard on our “final patrol” before I headed off to work for the day. It had been a pleasant enough morning, but now my mind was already filling with the day’s work that lay ahead, and I just wanted the dogs to finish their ‘business’ so I could get my morning commute started. That’s when I noticed that something on the ground had captured one of the dog’s attention.

A baby sparrow had fallen from its nest and was fluttering its wings in an attempt to get off the ground. Amber, our 70 pound Lab-Boxer mix was nudging the baby bird with her nose, almost as if she were trying to assist the tiny bird. My mind, which had been filled with all the work that lay before me today; cataloging new engineering drawings, adding and updating database entries, and mentally arranging and planning for some research that had been requested the night before, my mind was instantly refocused in its entirety to this tiny creature of God’s that lay on the ground before me trying desperately to get back to its nest.

I reached down and scooped up the tiny sparrow, cupping it in my left hand and placing my right hand over it to keep it from accidentally falling out as it continued to struggle to right itself. Its tiny legs seemed too weak to support its own weight and its wings looked like they were not developed enough to allow it to fly. “Such a pity,” I thought “another week or so and it would have been able to fly.” I looked up and about, but saw no obvious signs of a nest, so it must have been far up in the trees, far higher than I could hope to climb, even if I had spotted it.

Now I know that this is all just a “part of nature” and that every day untold numbers of baby birds must fall from their nests to perish on the ground below. But this little creature cupped in my hand was still struggling to survive. I breathed on it to warm it with my breath and I looked about. I knew that the creature did not have long to live, but I could not just leave it there on the ground. So I walked over to some potted plants and made a little “nest” for it out of some leaves. The baby bird was quiet now, as if it were sleeping, but I could still feel its life force in the palm of my hand.

I knelt down in the dirt and placed the sparrow in the little nest I had made. It was still now and not moving at all. The dogs stayed back a little, not knowing what I was doing, and as I knelt there, I cupped my hands over the bird in the nest and offered up a little prayer to God. “Lord, take this creature of yours to be with you in heaven, that it may join its song with the song of your angels. Amen.” Then I got up, brushed the dirt off my knees, put the dogs back in the house and left for work.

So, why all this fuss over one little creature? Why bother at all with something that is so clearly a part of nature? I thought about this quite a lot on my morning commute and it occurred to me that it is just a natural extension or part of what it means to me (for me) to be a Christian. I’m not saying that I should go around trying to save every little creature that comes to harm. That would be foolish at best and maddening at worst.

But, if I as a Christian believe that God has given the care of the world (and all its myriad creatures) to us humans, and I do not care for one of God’s littlest creatures when it is found in need before me, even if all I can do is only to try to comfort its final moments and offer up a little prayer for it, then how can I ever hope to think about caring for the larger world that lies all around me? Besides, wouldn’t I want God to do the same for me? Didn’t God already do the same for me? Although I was a little saddened by what had happened, I arrived at work satisfied that what I had done was the proper thing for me to do.

When I got back home this afternoon, I went out to the little nest I had made so I could dispose of the body, but the nest was empty and there was no sign of the little bird lying about on the ground. The pragmatist in me immediately thought that a scavenger had taken the little bird, but there were no signs that any predators or scavengers had been about. Then the hopeful part of me thought that perhaps I had been wrong and that the little creature had actually mastered the mechanics of flying and had flown off to live in the trees. But the spiritual part of me dared to hope that maybe, just maybe, God answered my prayer and carried off the little creature to sing with the heavenly choirs.

This whole incident has brought to mind several Gospel passages about fallen little sparrows, but I think Psalm 84* best describes my inmost feelings on what happened today:

How lovely your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young,
My home is by your altars, LORD of hosts, my king and my God!

Blessed are those who dwell in your house!
They never cease to praise you.

Blessed the man who finds refuge in you, in their hearts are pilgrim roads.
As they pass through the Baca valley, they find spring water to drink.

The early rain covers it with blessings.
They will go from strength to strength and see the God of gods on Zion.

LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
listen, God of Jacob.

O God, watch over our shield;
look upon the face of your anointed.

Better one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.
Better the threshold of the house of my God than a home in the tents of the wicked.

For a sun and shield is the LORD God, bestowing all grace and glory.
The LORD withholds no good thing from those who walk without reproach.

O LORD of hosts, blessed the man who trusts in you!

May I one day find myself listening to songs of greeting sung by that little one as I approach the gates of heaven.
Amen! Alleluia!

*New American Bible, revised edition

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Responses

  1. Love it !

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like


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