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The Young Sparrow
The little baby bird, by now a bundle of fear and pain, reluctantly agreed to be taken into the woman’s hands and her eventual care. Mrs. Smith wrapped the bird in a soft blanket and brought it into the house where she splinted the wing to a popsicle stick while the young sparrow bore the pain in silence, flinching only when absolutely necessary. For several weeks, Mrs. Smith was in constant contact with the young sparrow, feeding it and even taking it on her shoulder for neighborhood walks.
She explained to the sparrow how dangerous flying can be, and how her loving care is what it is that saved the sparrow from an otherwise-certain demise. She said that “love” can’t ever be wrong and that “need” should never be questioned. The sparrow didn’t really understand at the time, but felt otherwise tied to her and so always listened to the woman’s preaching, with at least one of his sparrow ears.
One day, after the splint had been removed, the young sparrow was walking in the house near the window and saw a couple of other sparrows outside up in the air, flying after each other in play. His eyes were wide open, his body was tense, his heart was racing, his wings even twitching, and his knees bent, as if to take-off in flight himself.
Mrs. Smith saw this and said to the young sparrow: “Now, don’t you go thinking that you should be up there, too! After all, you tried that once and did you see where it got you? Why, I had to come to your rescue and, if it wasn’t for me, then you might not even be alive, young creature! Besides, you need my love, and you can’t question that. Love can never be wrong, you know.”
She snatched up the bird and took him for a condoling walk on her shoulder, but the young sparrow couldn’t get the thought of those other sparrows out of his mind. Everyday, in the morning, he went to the window – his heart racing just by looking up into the sky. And everyday, Mrs. Smith interrupted his eager gaze, telling him that you can’t question “need” and that “love” can’t ever be wrong.
After a long while, Mrs. Smith’s preaching about need and love had started to set-in, and he soon forgot about possibilities. For most of his life, he missed-out on being a sparrow – but then Mrs. Smith died. And while she was now gone, and he felt sorrow over that, he was surprised at how shallow the sorrow seemed. For days he walked around the neighborhood not knowing how much sorrow to feel, looking down as if a weight were on his head.
Then, only because a loud airplane forced his attention, he looked up into the sky once again. It looked different, though it wasn’t. And then he spread his wings. The sun had never shown brighter for him than it did on that day. He made twists and turns and practiced diving and soaring. He didn’t realize how small he could make the land-dwellers appear as he soared ever higher and higher. He opened his beak as if to crack a wide smile, and he sang to his new friend, the wind.
Ed Thompson, 2008
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