The little bird flaps one black wing, and flips itself onto its back. Its mouth opens and closes in a gasp. A car has just gone past in the opposite direction as I ride my bicycle around the corner. I push my bike off to the side and then carry the bird off the road. When I put it down on the grass, its slight body barely bends a blade. Clumsily I arrange its wings closer to its body. It watches me with eyes like tiny black seeds, and that yellow beak still opening and closing.
You’re dying, I think.
I feel I should end the bird’s suffering; wring its neck, or leave it on the road and hope the next vehicle finishes it off.
Its mouth works in a silent gasp. I can’t watch and look out over the lake. Whitecaps are whipped into existence by a strong wind.
My own breath catches in my chest and I begin to cry. Surprised and perturbed I step back, as if moving away will shift my mood. Instead, I’m overtaken by a sob. I give in, and stand in the shade beside the dying bird, letting the tears fall.
I cry for my family, my sisters, my friends, people who are suffering, and people I miss. I’m sobbing with frustration over the loss of control in my own life, and being unable to save a tiny life.
I – feel – completely – helpless.
There are no options.
Sometimes nothing will fix what is broken.
There is nothing left to do.
I begin to pray.
Praying is not a habit of mine. But today it is easy, the words well up inside, it seems this is the only thing to do. And so I talk to God.
“Please,” I ask, “Help those who suffer. Bring them peace.”
I don’t end the bird’s life. I don’t feel it’s what I’m supposed to do. Maybe the bird doesn’t die. Maybe, as I write this, the little creature is nestled with its family for the night.
There was another purpose for my being there on that corner at that moment.
It was intended that I be moved to tears by a suffering little life.
It was intended that I accept how helpless I am, and that so much is out of my hands, and my worry won’t change anything but make me unhappy. It was intended that I ask God to bring peace. And I ask for those who haven’t asked for themselves.
It seems that something good came from crying beside a little bird on the side of the road.
I’ve still got the same problems, but my heart feels lighter.