Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Heart Hurts

No, it's not angina after my bike ride yesterday, but thanks for being concerned.  It's something silly and trivial and yet big and hurtful.

Today when we pulled into the parking lot at the Fencing Academy, there was a big fat robin sitting along the curb where the cars nose in.  I even remarked, "look how FAT that one is!"  As I slowly pulled up, I expected it to fly away.  It hopped a little bit towards another car, but it didn't fly.  That was my first clue.

I waited until it moved away and after I parked I got out and went to look at the bird.  Up close it was clear that it was big and fat because it was seriously injured and was holding itself all fluffed up.  Because we are owned by a bird, I know that is the "stressed" position.  Peering closer, I could see its eyes were cloudy.  More telling, it didn't fly off or try to move away at all.

My daughter asked me to call some Wildlife Rehabilitators so they could take care of it. That's why I got the iPhone, right?  So I could look up things like that and make phone calls at important times?  But every place that showed up on the list in the surrounding area dealt with injured raptors. Robins are not on the list of birds that Rehab places want to use their scarce resources on.  I told her to go in to class and I'd think about what next to do. By then the robin had hopped up onto the sidewalk.  As the students went in and out, they walked within inches of the bird and it didn't move. Most looked down at it, but no one stopped.

I needed to go to run an errand, so I told myself that if the robin was still there when I got back, I'd try a little harder to come up with an idea. When I returned, the bird was gone. My hope is that someone else took pity on it and did something useful or merciful, but I really don't know what happened.  I walked around a bit outside looking for it or a corpse, but didn't see anything.

Across the parking lot I did see some fledglings trying out their flying skills, and I imagine that is what happen to this one. Perhaps it zigged when it should have zagged. Better that it would have been killed outright though.

I know God makes plenty of robins, and one more or less will not endanger the population. And I know that animals get injured and sick and many die, especially wild ones who don't have humans to spend increasingly obnoxious amounts of money on them. What bothered me about this, and what still bothers me, is that the bird was so obviously suffering.

What bothered me more is that I did not have a clue what to do about it. This wasn't one of those situations where I could put money in a bucket or make a paypal donation to let someone else alleviate the suffering of a creature. I really, really hate to see animals suffering -- even if it's just a spider!

And then I started wondering.  If some of those children with huge eyes and distended bellies were actually in the parking lot of someplace I frequent, rather than in photographs, what would I do?

Last night, we watched The Blind Side. This is the remarkable story about a woman who couldn't stand to see a young man suffering so she did something about it. If you haven't seen it, you need to get it from Netflix. Don't be put off by the football player on it -- it's a true story of one of today's NFL players, Michael Oher.

I really need to spend some time in prayer about this who issue of how I should be responding to suffering around me. You see, I get impatient with people who seem to lean into their suffering. Or those who complain about their suffering constantly. I am much more drawn to those stoics -- like the robin -- who are carrying their pain silently as they just try to get through the next five minutes.

In the meantime, I know that Jesus asked,

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care." Matthew 10:29

I'm pretty sure that includes robins as well.

Be kind to one another today. And be particularly kind to the small ones amongst us.


Larry said...

Your concern shows you have Jesus in your life there aren't many around any more that have that quality.

The Bug said...

You really touched me with this. It's so easy to turn a blind eye to what's not right in front of us. In my husband's case it's a necessity because he tends to take on the cares of the world literally & gets too depressed to function. But I should pay more attention & figured out what I can do to help.

Mary said...

I know exactly what you mean. I understand the whole "circle of life" thing, but it pains me to see one of God's creatures hurting and to not be able to do anything about it.

quilly said...

I would have felt exactly the way you did over this bird. As Christians we are called to compassionately help, but sometimes we just don't know how. When I have one of those moments I usually resort to prayer -- even for a Robin, because God wouldn't have made it if he didn't care about it.

Robin said...

Poor little guy. I hate stories about injured Robins, I take them very personally ;).

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