Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lucky’s Gift

April 20, 2009

I can hardly bring myself inside to write this morning. The garden is like a magnet, drawing me to come outside and enjoy a spectacular spring day. The rain has washed away most of the pollen in Atlanta and the irises and roses are about to make their 2009 debut. The Lily of the Valley, Spanish Lavender and Dianthus are wafting their fragrance to the passer-by and I decide to compromise, pick some, and bring them in to my desktop. Each bloom is so different, so perfect, so fragrant – gifts for today.

Last week I wrote about seeing five white doves. You fellow “bird watchers of the soul” responded and affirmed my wondering about them being a gift from God – on the wings of a dove – a snow-white one. One friend wrote and said that right before the wedding of her daughter a white dove appeared in their garden. Another friend’s sister wrote from far away “God blessed me with a white dove on our back deck when I returned home after Mother’s death and I always felt like it was so rare and special – it was my gift from God”.

I suppose some of the gifts we appreciate the most are the ones we least expect – the surprise present wrapped in memory, tied with thoughtfulness, and offered in love with nothing expected in return. It’s like the unexpected offering of an engagement ring to a beautiful young friend. Or like the gift of a new friendship formed, surprised with affirmation and a sealed with a sense of closeness. It is the gift of a phone call or note from an old friend. But like the white doves, many gifts are given freely and only the one who is looking with an open mind and heart, can be the recipient.

I received such a gift Sunday morning. We had been at the beach and were packing to come home, but one enthusiast said, “Let’s go shelling one more time.” So we filled our coffee mugs and walked down to see what treasures were waiting for us. The beach was wide and calm and the birds busied themselves, moving along with us as we all searched for sea treasures. One bird – a spotted gull of some kind –hopped slowly and stood very still as we rummaged around him. He seemed to be comfortable with us near by. Looking closer we discovered he had only one leg and my friend aptly named him “Lucky”. I kept up my shelling, filling my pockets, but I kept returning to the gift that was being offered to me. Lucky was a real survivor. I needed to know him better.

How could Lucky, a bird with only one leg, be a gift? Obviously, he had met with opposition at some point, but had managed to recover. He looked healthy enough. He was part of the others who had flown in to feed and rest. I felt sorry for him though. He was different. He didn’t move as fast and watched more intently. Somehow his misfortune made him seem more serious to me – more thoughtful, calculating his next step – or hop. I kept waiting and hoping that he would fly off, giving me assurance that he could still take to the sky, soar over the ocean, but then I wondered what his landings would be like. I had to laugh at myself.

I can’t help it - grief makes me daydream. Grief makes me relate to loss of all kinds. Grief makes me feel like Lucky, one-legged bird. Everything has changed. Life is harder just to do the day-to-day routine stuff. It’s harder to stay balanced and it’s easier to fall down, so we move slowly, gingerly, staying with those who care and watch out for us. Sometimes we just position ourselves in the “still” mode and life moves on around us, giving us space and time to heal and find different ways to live. I guess the question becomes will we ever fly again? I don’t know, just like I don’t know if Lucky could fly after losing his leg. I guess that was not the message I needed even though I really wanted that bird to fly and fly well. The gift for me was that Lucky was standing just fine on his own. It gives me hope – “the thing with feathers” – my daily dose from a bird named Lucky.

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