Walking home from school admiring the ice crystals and drips of water that had crystallized and illuminated our tree lined street, I could see a small nest of birds high above me. I had seen the nest before but now it was more noticeable because it was filling with snow. Knowing that the overburdened branch would surely fall due to the weight of the snow I stood below looking and listening for the baby birds. With the glistening world and constant flurries of snow surrounding me, I began to realize that it would be my hands that needed to help the birds. So without hesitation I zipped up my coat and looked for a way to reach high enough to clear out the snow from around the nest. As I pulled on my last glove a dust of snow brushed past my face and blinded me for a moment. Wiping my eyes I looked up to see that a small part of the nest had broken off and one of the baby birds had fallen to the ground. I dropped to my knees and glanced at the little bird not knowing what to do. I pulled off my glove and carefully picked up the bird only to find that it had broken one of its wings. It was also the only bird that was in the nest. With no idea of what to do for this tiny creature, I covered it with my hands and began walking home.
I was amazed at the feelings that were now stirring inside of me. I felt responsible for a little bird. Rushing into the house I called for my mother. We uncovered the bird and I showed her its broken wing. After sharing the story of how I found the bird she gently picked it up and placed him in a paper-lined box. With a small towel she dried the bird in order to get a better look at the broken part of its wing. Within an hour we were in the car driving to see the nearest vet. We knew we could not fix the broken wing alone.
It was several weeks that we cared for the bird in our home. I loved this bird and all of its beauty. It slowly began to spread its wings out long and share their majesty with me. The detailed markings and colors were glorious and a quiet reminder of my own creation. Day after day it struggled to move and fly out of the box, but the wing was not fully healed. We fed the bird, kept it safe and warm, and touched it to remind it that it was not alone. I anxiously wanted the bird to be able to fly so that it could return to the nest and its mother. I knew it must have missed its home.
Within the next month the bird seemed to have healed and was able to flutter around and move without care. The winter had melted away and the beauty of spring had unfolded. It was time to set the bird free and let it find its way home. I picked up the bird and clutched it under my neck caressing it ever so lightly. I was sad to think it would be leaving me, but knew that it was time. I stroked its head and cupped my hands allowing the bird a place to stand and prepare to take its flight. As I pushed the bird out from my hands I was amazed at what I saw. It could not fly. I walked over to the bird and once again sent it on its way but as it spread its wings the once broken wing folded and the bird fell to the ground. The prior appearance of the bird was that he was healed but the truth was that he was still not strong enough to fly.
Over the next few weeks we left the bird in an open box and took care of it the best we could. It would perch on the edge of the cardboard and spread its wings, but never flew. As spring was coming to a close and the blistering heat of summer was about to arrive I again took the bird out into the yard. I had memorized every glorious color on its feathers. I loved its song and grace, and I loved that it would soon fly and be a beautiful piece of the sky. With tears in my eyes I held my gentle friend knowing that we had loved him and helped to make him whole again, and that today he would surely take flight. I once again cupped my hands and raised them high above me pushing the bird into the heavenly sky above. His wings spread and his feet tucked in, as he flew away never looking back.
I wondered what might have happened had I never looked up that cold winters day and seen the snow filled nest. I wondered if the bird would have become part of the snow covered earth and never had the chance to spread its magnificent wings for the world to see? There is not a day that I don’t see a bird fly by and remember of all the lessons a broken winged bird gave my heart. It’s love that takes us home and gives a place to spread our own wings until we are ready to fly solo. It is kindness that carries us and teaches us to find and feel the miracles. It is hands that hold us and caress us with the sweet reminder that we are alive and filled with purpose. It is the giving heart that shows us what wings are made for and how to use them. It is a friend that allows us to find shelter with them when the storm is not bearable and the cold wants to grip us forever. It is grace that teaches us to dare to fly even when we are not yet healed and unsure of where we belong. And it is the gift of time that walks by our side through the entire journey allowing us to become. I have learned to look upward and be grateful. For at times my wings are broken and yet my heart can still fly.
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