Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cookie and the Bird

This morning I heard a noise outside the bathroom door. Sounded like one of the dogs, but an odd sound. I figured it had to be the dogs. I was trying to read, but the sound persisted, distracting me. When I opened the door, there was Cookie, the cat, lolling about on her back, looking like cats look. Devious.

I went into the room for the coffeepot. I always rinse out the coffeepot before I make coffee. When I came out of the room with the coffeepot, Cookie was still there. It was then that I noticed something else. A dead bird. The cat had killed yet another bird. That’s what cats do, right? They kill the outside animals and bring them inside and present them to their humans saying, “I did it again! Here’s a present just for you!” Cats have no sense of propriety.

I rinsed the coffeepot and decided I had to do something about the dead bird. What? I secured some tissue paper, folded it neatly, and went to pick up the bird and dispose of its tiny carcass in the trash. When I picked it up, I noticed immediately that its eyes were partially open and its little beak opened and closed weakly. As I held it, I could feel its tiny heart rapidly beating through the tissue.

I was angry at the cat. It seemed to me that if you’re going to be a cat and kill beautiful things, that you could be quick about it and finish the job mercifully. But Cookie wanted to play. So she tortured the little thing, knowing that in time it surely would die, she would get bored with it, and walk stiffly off, leaving it on the floor for the humans to deal with.

I gently wrapped the bird in the tissue paper. It was brown with flecks of black, and green, and yellow. Its beak was long and curved. Maybe God made it that way so that it could dig insects out of flowers. At first, I thought it might be a hummingbird, but it was too large for that. It’s little body swelled and retreated with each labored breath. I took it downstairs and outside on the deck; I set it gently on the railing. To my surprise, it stood on both feet. I watched it for a moment, feathers rising and falling, hoping it would get better and fly away and live another day. I came back inside, leaving it to its fate.

So I thought of the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” followed by the thought , “Yeah, right. I guess he missed this one.” Not much faith in my ancient brain. Not much hope for this little bird. God must have been having lunch.

Then it hit me. Suppose I had ignored this whole thing? Suppose instead of dealing with what I thought was a dead bird, I just made my coffee, and left the carcass on the floor for the cat to eat, or for someone else to pick up. I must tell you, the thought occurred to me. Instead, I cared for it. When I learned that it was still alive, my heart was touched deeply by its plight. I wanted it to live and fly again another day.

So, is it too far-fetched to think that maybe God was using me to care for this tiny bundle of feathers? Is his eye really on the sparrow? Does God really care when a cat kills, or tries to kill, a lovely creature? You know, I think he does! And if he really cares about this little bird, how does he feel about you and me?


When I finished writing about the bird, I went downstairs to check on it. I sort of expected it to be dead.

But it was sitting up, clearly breathing and turning its head back and forth. It turned, looked at me, (I could have sworn it peeped, "Thanks, c'ya! And get rid of that freakin' cat, pal!") and then in the blink of an eye, it spread its wings and flew to a nearby tree. It was indeed going to live another day. And just to let me know that it was fine and healthy, it left a little bird turd on the tissue wrapping.