We spotted a baby bird hopping in the road as we walked to church yesterday. It was a brief, golden moment. Me with my three little chicks, enraptured by seeing a baby bird up close.
And then, with my three small innocents looking on, a car came and hit it.
It was a horrific moment.
It managed to hop its way across the street and we spent some time crouched in the gutter, looking at the poor little thing.
And I was trying to decide what to do.
I don’t know if it’s hard heartedness or pragmatism, but if it was just me, I’d be inclined to leave the bird there and…hope for the best.
But I had three tender little hearts with me. What would it say to them (and how would I answer their questions?) about how we treat the hurt, the broken, the downtrodden? That it’s okay to feel a pang and have a moment of silence, but then walk cheerfully on? That’s not a lesson I’m eager to teach.
But, in all practicality, what am I supposed to do with a baby bird that’s been hit by a car? I was at a complete loss.
And then I thought of Marisa and Ron, a couple at our church who has quite a menagerie and who had just recently posted pictures on facebook of the baby crow they had rescued. Ding ding!
Our neighbor helped us put the bird in a box and we continued on to church with our precious cargo.
Marisa and Ron told us that it was a sparrow almost ready to fledge, that it didn’t seem to be injured, and gave specifics on how to care for it. (They even answered my phone calls from the pet store in the afternoon, blessed people).
Everyone stopped to ask Lia what was in the box she was cradling so carefully. For church, we found a safe and quiet place in the deacon’s room for the box, lest the loud music frighten the poor thing to death.
In time, the bird was duly named Bo.
And the little girls loved Bo. Bo was loved and petted and picked up with the most tender, loving, gentle care.
They sang lullabies. And were so excited when Bo cheeped in harmony while they sang.
They provided clean paper towels every time the bird messed.
They loved how Bo would tuck its little head under it’s wing for it’s baby naps.
Their own little baby sparrow.
In the evening we made Bo a nice bed out of a tennis ball box. Soft tissue, water, food, and a light to keep it warm. Lia, like a sensitive little mother, would hop out of bed to check on her baby every time it woke up and peeped.
This morning, Lia came into our room with Bo cradled in her hand. “Bo won’t wake up.”
And we all cried for our beloved little bird. And I cried for our little girls, who opened their hearts so fully to love this little creature. And for their introduction to losing something precious to the terrible finality of death.
What stays with me at the end of the day, is how this little sparrow opened in the little girls a wellspring of innocent, tender love, full of joy and wonder. The beauty and magic of such a love. And the lingering sadness of its loss.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.