The Bird Can't Find The Sky

Bonnie Crandall

© Copyright 2020 by Bonnie Crandall

2020 Animal Contest Winner

Photo by Jacques LE HENAFF on Unsplash.
Photo by Jacques Le Henaff on Unsplash.                             

I was late, as usual, and needed a bridal shower gift for someone I didn’t know and whose shower I did not want to go to. But her parents were influential church leaders, and since my husband was their minister, a gift had to be bought and a shower had to be attended.

I rushed into the shopping center dragging my four-year-old, Matthew. The area had an open courtyard with woven netting stretched across from building to building to keep leaves and debris from dropping onto people below. For each one of my hurried steps, poor Matthew’s little legs needed several more steps, so he was almost running to keep up! However, my set jaw and clinched teeth made it obvious to anyone watching that I was paying little attention to him.

Soon, however, I became very aware of his presence as I felt my arm jerked hard and his little body stop short, heals dug in. I turned to him and saw that he was not looking at me, but was staring intensely up at the netting above the courtyard. Glancing up I saw nothing of note, so I pulled his arm and said, “Come on Matthew. We have to go.” His eyes still focused up; he said “No. We can’t. The bird can’t find the sky.”

Looking up again, I spotted a small sparrow with ruffled feathers hanging on an ornamental brick. He was near where the net was attached to the wall. As I watched, the bird wobbly took off, swooped low and headed toward the sky that he could see through the courtyard netting. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand the barrier of the net and flew smack-dab into it, bouncing off and half-flying and half-falling to a small tree. Matthew watched, then walked to a nearby bench and sat down. As I saw him bow his head and bring his little hands together, I joined him just in time to hear his final words to God “and let the bird find the sky. Amen.” I waited a moment, affirmed his prayer and then suggested we continue our shopping. “No” he said, “We have to wait until God helps the bird find the sky.” Then as a child of faith he remained seated and returned to his prayers.

I, on the other hand, was not feeling prayerful. In fact, I was far from it. The emotions in me were churning, not peaceful. There was so much resentment over the many changes that had happened in the last few months. I had undergone two major surgeries and been diagnosed with a medical condition, though while not fatal, was turning my life goals and image upside down. Plus, I was married to a man who was a clergy and was giving his all to a congregation that was fighting him at every turn and had little left to give to his family . . . namely me! “Pray to God for a little bird!” I thought. “Ha!”

Glancing down at my dear Matthew and seeing his brow furrowed in intense 4-year-old prayer, I realized the shower gift would have to wait. Since I did not want to pray, I watched the totally confused bird try to recover himself. Obviously, he understood where the sky was, and had made several attempts to get there; but something that he couldn’t understand (the net) kept getting in his way. I so knew that feeling! At one point in my life, I felt I knew what God’s sky looked like for me and I flew free. Lately I had to confront new realities in my life that made me feel extremely earth bound.

 However, as I watched the bird resting on a small tree branch, waiting to recoup his bearings, I was reminded of the verse from Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” This little sparrow didn’t want to be an eagle, but he did need to renew all his sparrow strength. “Boy, do I know how you feel” I whispered to the weary bird. My heart was longing for direction and a renewal of God in my life. Not in my life as Matthew’s mother, or Ron’s wife; but renewing direction and the calling of God upon me – Bonnie. While I loved both my son and husband, I knew that I would someday stand before God as an individual and have to give accounting for the gifts God had given me alone. And right then, that individual - me - was feeling like she would never find the sky again and was tired of hitting her head against the netting of life.

Little hands pulling on my sleeve brought me out of my musings. “Look, mommy!” said Matthew. The bird had begun to fly again, and this time he flew back and forth under the netting a few times. Then as we both held our breath, he seemed to notice that the light was brighter at the edge of the webbing between the ropes that held the net. Swooping down and then back, he headed for the spot of brighter light; and with wing tips brushing the net, he plunged through the opening to the sky!

Immediately Matthew rose and said, “We can go now. God helped the bird find the sky.” And off he walked with the confidence of faith that children find so easily. I stood there, a child of God, and began to realize that if I were faithful to the task - with even birdlike faith - God would help me find my sky once more. Hurrying to catch up with my sermon-on-legs son, I also thanked God for helping the bird find his sky, and trusted he would do the same for me. My step was lighter as I found myself humming a favorite hymn I had learned as a child: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.”

No, I still didn't have a gift, and the Phoenix heat was still growing hotter by the second, but the faith of a child had led me to the belief that like that little bird, I could renew my strength and find the sky again and fly. “And a little child shall lead them....” 

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