Yesterday I walked home from dropping my daughter at school, and I passed by a wounded mourning dove on the sidewalk. It was camouflaged and nearly undetectable. In a matter of seconds my eye saw it, my heart said, Oh! Poor creature, and my legs kept walking. I thought — actually, I felt a physical pressure in my torso — the prompt of compassion to move it off the sidewalk, and this was immediately chased away by the thought, Remember, avian flu, don’t want to get something like that.
I kept walking, but a debate occurred between my mind and that felt part of me. I hesitate to call it my heart, because it filled my torso. It was an interesting experience, since another part of me was detached enough to witness the event. This is what unfolded:
Feet are walking.
Head: Keep going. It could have disease.
Heart: You can wash your hands as soon as you get home. It’s vulnerable. At least move it off the sidewalk.
Head: It’s probably going to die.
Feet keep walking.
Heart: Just move it! Even if it dies, let it be somewhere safer.
Head: No, it’s silly. It’s just a bird. Not a big deal. Besides, I’m several houses past it.
Heart: Go back. Go back, pick it up, and put it under a bush.
Feet move more slowly.
Head: You’re kidding, right? Feet, keep walking. It’s no big deal.
Feet continue to move, even more slowly.
Heart: You must go back. Turn around, walk back, and move the bird. It’s a living creature.
My body turned around, my feet walked half a block back to the bird. I leaned down and gently cupped my hands around it. I lifted the bird and saw that it was dead. Its eyes remained open, but there was not even the slightest movement of a feather. I tucked it under a bush. I wasn’t thinking. The act itself felt like a prayer. I took out my phone and snapped a picture. It was just a bird, but it had been living and now it wasn’t. It seemed right to memorialize it in a photo. Then I stood up and began walking home.
Peace coursed through my body. It was an act of compassion, however small.
Heart: Thank you.
Head: Okay, just be sure to wash your hands really well when you get home.
Today, a scripture from my childhood came to mind, Luke 12:6: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
We are God’s eyes. We are called to remember. That is how God moves in the world.Journal, Nature, Quotes, Spirit