I remember the morning well when I visited with this little fellow. I was out soaking up the early morning sunrise, as the overnight frost was beginning to thaw. And of course I had my camera ;-) Frito was off visiting the neighbors, when I noticed this little bird on the ground, just underneath a cedar tree.
“What are you doing down there?”, I thought, as I snapped a couple of pictures. And as one with a camera is wont to do, I kept inching my way closer, waiting for him to fly to the safety of an upper branch. But he did not move. “He must be injured,” I thought. I lay down on the ground (bathrobe and all ;-) and looked closely at him, but could not see any injuries. So I snapped a few more pictures — this is one of them. I love how you can see the detail of the feathers, fluffed up on his chest, to give him some insulation from the December chill.
“What should I do? Get a shoe box and take him inside?”, I wondered. As I headed toward the house, after visiting with him for 5 or 10 minutes, he just flew away. Clearly not injured. Why he was warming himself on the ground, and why he was so trusting, I do not know. But I was happy for the visit.
This past weekend, my wife and I repaired a bunch of broken bird feeders we had kept in the garage, and now have them swinging to and fro in our front and back yards. We must have over a dozen now. And the offspring of this little slate-colored junco are flittering all over, enjoying plenty of food, joined by the occasional cardinal, woodpecker, goldfinch, and chickadee.
And speaking of chickadees, I came across this story as I was flying over to Japan (and yes, you can definitely call me a frequent flyer). See what you think — I enjoyed it ...
A bird at my feeder clearly had a message for me. What was it?
I had seen him before. In fact, I believe now that, after seeing him nearly every time I go into the backyard, that there is a purpose in our meeting so often.
I speak to you of signs, verbal nudging, brilliant, glowing, attention- grabbing moments, that make me aware that God is trying to say something to me. But there are also subtle, seemingly insignificant occurrences that may in fact, bring even more important issues to light.
He sent me a feather.
"Oh, Bob, there are feathers all over the yard around bird feeders," you might reply. That's true. So what is so significant about this one?
The tiny bird handed it to me.
"Okay, too much medication, Bob!"
It is most likely the fact that because I am back to my old self, I have once again found life in the smallest of things. Most of which goes unnoticed.
A chickadee. A black-capped chickadee. Not any bird. But the same one over and over.
How can that be? How could I possibly know one from another? This one has one good leg. The other is crippled and held close to the body. The very first time I noticed it, I was amazed by the perfect balance and ease this bird expressed in doing what every other chickadee does.
I have made it a point to stand just a few feet away from the feeders so I can see them close up. The only birds that appear unaffected by my presence are the chickadees and an occasional sparrow.
My one legged friend always stops by. We talk. Yes, it's true. I make a high-pitched "beep, beep beep," sound and he responds. My friend even dances from pole to pole on the feeder, finally grabbing a sunflower seed and vanishing to the nearby holly bushes and back again.
"How do you do it?" I asked. "You are limited and not the same as all the others." He teases me and jumps back and forth to show off his power to adapt.
Every single time I walk out there, he appears. Every single time I stand there, amazed by his ability to be what he was created to be no matter what limits were placed on his life.
"I see you and want to be that brave," I said. The thought then came to me that perhaps he looks at me and thinks I'm limited because I cannot fly.
"Oh, my friend. I would give anything to fly!" I said, and walked back into the house. Later in the early evening, as a part of my regular routine, I went back to the feeders, filled them, added water to the bird bath, and waited. As always my feathered friend appeared.
"Beep, beep, beep beep!" I said. He quickly darted back and forth showing off a bit. For the first time he came close enough that I could almost touch him. The right leg was indeed damaged beyond use.
"Fly for me, please, and take my spirit with you so I can soar in my dreams tonight."
This will be hard for anyone to believe, but trust me I thought it to be amazing, too. He tucked his head under his right wing and plucked a feather. Looking at me as he nervously cocked his head back and forth, he released the tiny feather from his mouth.
What seemed to me like a dreamy slow-motion moment, I watched the feather falling and reached my hand to catch it. Looking down into the palm of my hand, I thought I saw the tiny feather appear to glow in contrast. I looked back up at my "frequent flyer friend," and said "Thank you!"
Now, as silly as this may seem to you, I see it as a precious gift from God. For I had asked my friend to take my spirit soaring and he in turn gave me a feather so I could fly. "It won't get me off the ground!" I said, laughing.
"But it is a beginning. A little piece of a dream to prove there are no limits to the abilities you have been given," the Voice said to me.
The only limits that exist are the ones you choose to accept.