An Eastern Starling flew down our chimney sometime in the night and started fluttering around our firebox, enclosed by the brick in the back and a glass front . She kept fluttering around, getting herself stuck around bricks and trying to fly back up the black Alice in Wonderland hole where she came from.
I couldn’t take it any longer. I was having a birthday brunch for a friend in about an hour and couldn’t imagine cake and candles and joy with a bird in captivity clanging around in the room adjacent. Or at least, that’s what I told myself.
I could tell Andrew didn’t care. “Let the bird die and then we’ll carry him out to the ravine,” he said calmly without looking up from his book. There is a big difference between Andrew and I. Andrew came from a hunting family. My first morning sleeping over at my in-laws, I got up bleary-eyed for breakfast and while pouring breakfast cereal, saw three freshly skinned rabbits in the sink. Pink, shiny, fleshy things destined for that night’s casserole. The beagles were snoring exhausted on the front porch, big smiles on their face.
I couldn’t do it. The thought of this vulnerable bird beating around against the glass dying in my house. I dared beg my pastor husband who was Monday-morning-tired to help.
He rolled his eyes and then came to my (I mean the bird’s) rescue.
After banging around in the garage, Andrew trudged into the fireplace room with his largest steelhead catching net, opened the glass front and positioned the net across the front. The bird walked in and then, unconvinced her freedom came in the form of black plastic netting, promptly walked back into the firebox.
Hmmmm. New plan of attack.
A few minutes later, the bird herself flew out from around the net and into the office/playroom, furiously beating her wings on the windows. Over and over, Andrew kept flushing her out of corners where she would get herself stuck. Next, she flew behind the huge computer cabinet and into the corner behind the fish tank. Stuck again. I ran to get the broom and tried the help flush. More flying furiously from corner to corner. I was adamant she had to go before the brunch…even more adamant that she had to go before kids came home from preschool. I couldn’t bear to see the horror in their eyes. I was completely determined. This bird was coming out alive!
Friends, here’s the undercurrent: the entire time, I’m getting seriously emotional…(and I am not even pregnant, a clear indication something else was going on here.)
I remember saving a songbird from the mouth of the neighbor’s cat when I was eight and making her comfortable in a shoebox until our friends’ vetrinarian dad could come home from work and diagnose the problem. More weapiness. (I swear I’m not usually such a drama queen!)
The bird then flew across the small room into a bookcase and got stuck there. What now? Do we reach in? “I’ll get some gloves for you,” I said. Plastic? Too thin. “My canvas ones are out in the garage,” Andrew said.
I’m nearly crying by now. Protected by yellow suede gloves, Andrew reaches into the bookcase, brought out the starling and carefully carried him out the backdoor, proclaiming to the bird as he released him, “Be free!” I dissolve into weeping.
Oh. So that’s what this was about. Freedom has been the theme of my Lent. “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” Galatians 5:1 This is a sign that God has a word for me. It’s been happening over and over for six weeks.
This is just a tiny picture of the kindness and fierceness that Christ has for our freedom. He wants us to be healed of the gangrene in our spirits and be resurrected new creations. He wants to fiercely show our other lovers (as the Old Testament prophet Hosea teaches) the door, kick them out for good, afraid to slink back into our lives when we’re vulnerable.
My sister wrote about her healing in a memoir in which she talked about a word that I’ve always had trouble with: “wrath.” She wrote that she once gave God permission to send his wrath against everything that was standing in the way between herself and God. Wow, now that’s gutsy. I looked inside myself, do I have that kind of guts? Am I fierce like the Living God for my own freedom
…or do I just kinda wanna be free?
If Andrew and I had kinda wanted the bird free, she would still have been fluttering around in the flu.
We had to be fiercely focused on the end goal.
Sometimes it just takes fierce courage and a little healthy wrath.
photos from ellemoss: check out her beautiful etsy shop