Last week, before the thermometer dipped to 22 degrees (-5.6 C) and it began to snow…
Blessed warmth shines from blue sunny skies. We’ve forgotten what sun looks like. We’ve forgotten how cheery we feel when sun streams warmth across the backs of grazing deer in the yard. We’ve forgotten how bright the woods look when illuminated.
In the drowsy warmth of afternoon I creak open the windows. The screens are long put away, stored in absent Christopher’s basement bedroom. On our last day of wood splitting last weekend bark separated from log to reveal an amazing inner pattern. “The secret life of bark,” I think, and attempt to photograph the hieroglyphic lines, the hidden labyrinth in a busy world.
Suddenly, in the kitchen, a fierce beating sound against glass. What? Still carrying the camera, I near the refrigerator, sink. What’s this? A chickadee inside the house? White and black and gray, beating itself furiously against the inside of the window, oh so wanting freedom, its heart beating wildly, my heart beating wildly, what to do, what to do?
I remember when a hummingbird flew in years ago and fluttered high to our upper windows and couldn’t get down and we chased that hummingbird for lifetimes as it slowly grew more exhausted and we wearied in despair. Would this chickadee be the same? Would it rise toward the pinnacle windows and then we’d be lost in an hour or two of frantic rescue attempts? And, as Barry pointed out later, the chickadee would probably shit all over our furniture, carpeting, telephone, glass kitchen table.
I approached chickadee, still banging against one of the closed windows above the sink, ignorant of the open window four feet away through which he entered. A thought arose, “Take its picture!” but that thought rang false. No, the chickadee needed help—now. I carefully continued to draw near and it didn’t fly upward, didn’t attempt escape.
With bated breath and soundless prayer, I cranked open the window against which he frantically wanted freedom, silently begging him to stay steadfast, to not fly away from freedom two seconds away.
Fly, I silently begged. Fly out.
And what happened? Like magic, like answered prayer, he spread his wings wide and propelled to freedom, out the window, into the yard, over the grazing deer, gone, gone, into the arms of spruce ready to soothe, to comfort, to whisper, “It’s OK, it’s OK, it was only a nightmare of jail, a false alarm…”
In one window and out the other. A moment or two of panic. I sat in the kitchen chair, elated, thrilled, hands trembling. To think of the miracle of the chickadee in our house. To think of the amazement of liberty so close by, the hand of grace our savior, ready to crank open our window and let us fly free.