[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, and allowing a second chance for those who missed them the first time, I reprint them here, with permission. The following ran in The Forum newspaper on May 31, 2014.]
Living Faith: Bird did dance to show gratitude
By Roxane B. Salonen
It happened several years ago during her attempt to free a robin that had become entangled in the threads of a sandbag leftover from a spring flood scare, as she recently shared in an email to me.
“Fargo had won another round with the mighty Red,” Doyea writes. “All the temporary dikes were done, and the sandbags were being collected.”
“A few sandbags had fallen off the flat wagons and pickup boxes, and they had been run over many times,” she notes, adding that a local news story had warned folks about the danger of these bags to critters looking for nesting materials.
Doyea was heading toward her backyard when she noticed a robin on the ground. “She would try to fly, but kept falling down.”
Then Doyea noticed the long strand of sandbag thread dragging behind her.
“I tried to step on it, but she would hop too fast. She finally made it up to a low branch in an apple tree, and I got on my fours, and crawled up underneath the branch and grabbed ahold of the string.”
The bird was struggling and chirping and Doyea held on tight.
“I finally stood up and picked her up and held her ever so gently in my hands. I could see this strand of sandbag was threaded all over her. It was around her feet, around her neck and around a wing. I held her for a second or so and stroked her, talking to her to try to relax her as much as I could.”
At that point, Doyea told the little bird that it was probably the luckiest day of its life.
Doyea was set on freeing her feathered friend, but first she had to find an adequate tool to help her out. She knew she’d have to take the little bird inside her home – a place where cats lurked – to hunt down scissors.
“I had visions of losing her in the house, or worse, waking up one of my sleeping cats,” Doyea says. “I walked in quietly and got the scissors out of the silverware drawer, and went back outside near the apple tree. I snipped and snipped everywhere on her. She never moved, even though in some places it was really tight.”
As she worked, Doyea talked to the bird and told her how pretty she was, saying that soon, she would be reunited with her family. After getting the bird cleaned up, Doyea dropped the scissors on the ground, and while cupping the bird in her hands, held her over her head and, with open hands, wished her luck.
“She sat for a second and all of a sudden she was free,” Doyea recalls. “She was so happy. She flew away and over the backyard, chirping.”
But then, in a surprise move, the bird came back to Doyea, flying over her head, back and forth, about three or four times.
“As I watched her, tears came to my eyes. What a hearty thank-you from her.”
From there, the bird flew away and into a tree and soon was visited by a few more robins.
Doyea continued watching her little friend, seeing her still as she flew to a nearby park, until finally, the tiny bird became a tiny speck and then vanished.
But that day was one of the most rewarding of her life, she says, because of what the happy bird’s dance and expression of gratitude had shown her.
God treats us just as tenderly and does everything possible to unleash us from the tangled strings that keep us stymied. When we at last realize God’s love has freed us, we can’t help but do a happy dance, just like that little robin.
The robin’s joy reminded Doyea of her own thankfulness for life and God’s love for her. And as she watched the bird fly into her new life without the encumbrances that had once kept her bound, Doyea had one last revelation.
“I realized it was not only her luckiest day, but mine, too.”