The possibility of grace and freedom

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.

Inner 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.

Chickadee last winter, calmly pecking seeds, never imagining what might someday happen.

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.


About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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72 Responses to The possibility of grace and freedom

  1. Elisa's Spot says:

    Woooo hoooooooooooooo!!

  2. lisaspiral says:

    hmmm. The story you’ve told actually makes me think more about being willing and unafraid to accept help when we’ve asked for it. hmmm.

  3. The story might be the way we feel caught between two worlds, trying to break free from one while clinging to the other.
    Lovely story and am so happy the chickadee is flying free.

    • Kathy says:

      Feeling caught between two worlds can feel crippling and frightening. At times, I wonder, if some day it might feel liberating to have absolute trust that we’re never really trapped?

  4. Brenda Hardie says:

    Good Morning Kathy,
    I’m so happy the chickadee made it back to freedom and that you were there to assist. Your story makes me think about the times when we spend so much time banging against a closed door, pining over what has been lost. But we fail to notice there is another door that is open. And sometimes there is an angel in disguise who is willing to guide us just as you did for the chickadee.

    • Kathy says:

      Gosh, Brenda, we do that unfruitful banging at times, don’t we? Thank goodness for those angels who are waiting until we notice them pointing to the open door.

  5. Pingback: Full circle « Simply here

  6. Stacy says:

    Someone recently told me, “Your happy ending could be right in front of you. You just can’t see it.” I think she was right. Sometimes we just need a helping hand..

    • Kathy says:

      I like what someone told you. Even if our happy ending doesn’t look like we envision…even if it’s something entirely ordinary. Thank you, Stacy Lyn.

  7. bonnie says:

    The prayer-filled rescue of a sweet chickadee. Gives you a fluttery feeling in the heart. I know it. I have felt it. Beautiful.

  8. Susan Derozier says:

    Kathy – I love your little chickadee. It has always symbolized power and resilience to me. i used to observe them at the feeder in the fiercest of storms, bracing against the wind. They would hang sideways and upside down but always holding on to get their seed.. I would laugh watching the bluejays fly in and scold and intimidate all other birds away from the feeder…but not the chickadee. Small but power-filled. What a lovely connection you had!

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, many have suggested that the chickadee replace the robin as Michigan’s state bird. They don’t leave in winter, like that robin. They are so resilient! They can light our spirit in the darkness, they can.

  9. dorannrule says:

    Another one of your posts that makes me gasp! A familiar story made incredibly poignant.

  10. “…into the arms of spruce ready to soothe, to comfort…”

    Aaaah, such a lovely word picture.

  11. Janet says:

    Loved this. An ordinary event (well, maybe not so ordinary) turned into a poetically told story. 🙂

  12. Enjoyed your post, as always. Forgot to let you know (yikes) that I mentioned you in a post a couple weeks back:

    • Kathy says:

      I just went over and visited your post, Jessica. Sorry to have missed it~~I was on blogging break at that time. Glad to hear you enjoyed this little chickadee story.

  13. Carol says:

    Yours is poetry in motion – the little chickadee knowing he was not in the safety of his home, but that it had to be there – this way. Trust.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, I wonder if we’re always surrounded by poetry and our mind convinces us that it’s only the *boring* usual everyday life. I want to trust so much, so deeply. Thank you.

  14. susan says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I believe you have a house full of love and joy – which is why so many critters come in, wanted or not. It’s the ambience 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I had to smile, SuZen. I think we have an ordinary house, which sometimes includes love and joy, and sometimes…well, not as much. But I love the thought that love & joy will attract the animals. Black bears are an exception, right?

  15. Lovely post about freedom and escape. Comparing one’s life to that of a self imposed jail and then knowing/learning how to set one’s self free. Nice insight and well worded.

  16. sybil says:

    Yeah, yeah, lovely metaphor … I’m busy imagining what would have happened if the eagle in the last photo had been the birdie stuck inside your house. THEN Barry would have had some cause to worry about SHIT happening in the house …

    You’re not going to block me if I keep being bad are you ? The rest of them are all leaving insightful comments, and entirely “get” what you’re saying …

    Can I please be the token jerk who acts like she doesn’t ?

    • Kathy says:

      Dearest Sybil, ha ha about an EAGLE flying in through the open window! And, by gosh, I’ve seen eagle shit beneath the trees and I shudder to think of that mess. As to you being bad, not a chance. If you stop being Sybil I would be devastated. You can say what you’re feeling here. Maybe you’ll provide us with some levity so we can quit taking things so seriously. Got it, girlfriend?

  17. Fountainpen says:

    I remember when I was in a hermitage for six months in a woods that I would stand with hands full of bird seed and chickadees would sit on
    my fingers and eat their meals……it was awesome….never to be forgotton.

    • Kathy says:

      Fountainpen, I do love it when it’s possible to be patient long enough for chickadees to munch seed upon our open hands. Wish I could be that patient more often, because it is such a special time. So glad you were able to experience this!

  18. Heather says:

    This is such a sweet story. I’m glad that the little chickadee allowed you to help. It reminds me of a video that made me tear up and clap at the same time with some bears. I’ll see if I can find it.
    These dilemmas are never hard to determine what to do when you’re inside and the thing that needs help doesn’t live inside with you. I hate trying to decide in other situations if my help is actually helpful, or long-term harmful :-/

  19. Jeffstroud says:

    “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.” Beautifully said, how often we beat ourselves with sameness, routine, ignoring the other paths by distraction.
    There are always new paths, new windows open for our discovery, our growth.

  20. Great story. And it’s so blogger-ish to think “take a picture” before “open the window” 😉

  21. Truly a moment of grace! I am cherishing the image of your chickadee being comforted in the arms of the protective spruce tree. This is such a heartwarming story, Kathy. Chickadee blessings to you, my friend!

  22. sybil says:

    Love that video.

  23. debyemm says:

    We occasionally end up with the excitement of a bird finding its way into the house. We never failed to help them exit to freedom. It is a magical experience to be so close and feel the wildness of the bird not understanding, we are only there to give it a little direction, back to the grace of being in the more beneficial place – out of doors.

    • Kathy says:

      I’m sure you’ve had this experience before, as well, Deb. It is magical, is it not? We’ve never failed a rescue, either, but some are more challenging than others. Flying bats can be especially challenging…

      • debyemm says:

        Flying bats, oh my !! We had one season, when 2 or 3 showed up dead on our porch – and we suspected our cats involvement, somehow. But never in the house !! May all that is good forbid such an experience. Bats worry me – when I was young, a friend had to undergo rabies treatment “just in case”, after being bitten by one, even though the actual bat was not available to be tested.

  24. Even when bumblebees get in, that beating wings against the glass is such a poignant sound! For insects, I have a long-used mason jar and cardboard safe removal technique. Birds and bats are trickier…good for you on getting him out safely!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, yes, that mason jar and cardboard is a great rescuer! I use that for wasps and other smaller insects. Somehow don’t think that would have worked with the chickadee. 😉

  25. CMSmith says:

    I’ve had to get a couple of birds out of our house over the years. It is always like a miracle when they fly free.

  26. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    I’m taking it easy on my ol’ gray cells, and not interpreting this one bit. I’m just enjoying the thought of being that close and connected to a chickadee. They’re such charming little creatures, after all.

  27. Dana says:

    This post makes me think about reciprocity. We all have the power to help others, and we all have the power and humility to accept help from others, too. I’m liking the shift, Kathy! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Don’t get too used to it, Dana. I liked it, too. But my inconsistent nature took over (kind of like Life, huh?) and now I’m blogging what’s coming up in Life again. Want to aim back toward Presence-filled writing again soon, but sometimes I feel at the mercy of Life rather than intentions, don’t you, too?

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, I saw that you had just read this post and could not–for the life of me–even recall what it was about! Heading off for another blogging break. It’s funny how people always think we’re going to take a HUGE blogging break when–for us–seven to ten days is like an epic.

      • Robin says:

        lol! Three days feels epic to me. Hmmm… not sure that’s a good thing. I’ll be taking a break soon, too. Before the end of the year. Enjoy your break, Kathy. I’ll probably still be getting caught up with you by the time you return. lol!

        P.S. I rarely remember what my old posts are about, and always have to go look at the whole thing when someone comments on it days or weeks later.

  28. What a great story! So glad the chickadee made its way out without harming itself. How wonderful of you to give it the space it needed to find its own way! 🙂

    Before we put a screen around our fireplace chimney, we had several birds fall down and land on the flue. One time we had a pair of sparrows that dropped down at the same time! In order to guide them back outside we had to open the flue and let them fly free around the house to finally find the open doors and freedom. They eventually made it outside after leaving a few feathers on the stippled ceiling. 🙂

  29. Reggie says:

    Ohhh! What a story! Intense! Relieved the chickadee could fly free again!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, yes, this was a cool thing that happened, Reggie. Gosh, I so often forget that these stories even happened. Blogging is like a great diary–a way to remember what our minds may forget. (Not that I ever go back and read, except when someone comments on a long-ago post.)

      • Reggie says:

        I also use blogging as a kind of diary – and I love going back and reading older posts, and remembering the little forgotten details of what we’ve done.

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