A storm blew the cap off the chimney. Before it could be replaced, a bird managed to tumble inside and get stuck above the flue. I could hear it frantically flapping in the confining, dark space. Its wings were useless – birds aren’t helicopters. The bird had no way out.
You know that feeling too, right?
Most of us feel that way from time to time, I suspect. Our hands, our legs, our brains, our hearts, our intuition, our creativity, our talent, our courage, our self-confidence, our best intentions, our funniest jokes – none of that seems capable of getting us out of a dark place.
I opened the flue to give the frightened bird an escape route. After several minutes, it squeezed through the flue and landed on the floor. It saw light coming through a window and began flying toward what it thought was freedom.
Smack! It went beak-first into the glass. Then, like a cartoon animal, it slid down the wall and landed on the ground, stunned and dazed. I scooped it up and cradled it between my hands, holding its wings tightly so it wouldn’t try to escape and hurt itself again.
I could tell that the bird was really frightened. Its heart was beating so fast that I couldn’t keep count. And no wonder. It had escaped a dark place and spread its wings toward the comforting light, only to slam headlong into something that it couldn’t even see.
Now, the bird was totally helpless. Its life was in someone else’s hands.
The bird’s brain had no way of knowing that I was there not to hurt, but to help. I wanted to save it. I rubbed my finger over its head, trying to soothe it as I carried it to the front door and then outside. I put it down inside a flower box, went inside and watched from the window that it had flown into.
The bird didn’t move for quite a while. Then it seemed to regain its senses. The bird stood up, stretches its wings, and then took to the sky, flying toward a stand of trees that offered shelter and safety.
The bird had no idea of what just happened. It couldn’t even begin to comprehend that it had been saved by a pair of hands that enfolded it, protected it, and carried it where it needed to go.
Fast-forward to now. Birds don’t live all that long in the wild, so this one is probably dead. It’s in Someone else’s hands now.
I’m reminded of that from time to time – often in those soaring moments, and also in those other ones we all experience. The times when we feel helpless, stuck in a dark place, afraid and confused. All of our personal powers aren’t enough. We don’t know what to do next except uselessly flap our wings and let our hearts beat so fast that we can’t count.
And all we can do is trust that there are hands holding us.
Some people don’t believe in the hands. Or they do believe, but it’s hard to trust in them – I’m well-practiced at that one! I’m more of a do-it-myself person, always sharing my brilliant ideas with the One who seems more interested in giving me a hand than in taking my advice.
Just trust. That’s hard. And often, I’m so absorbed in whatever it is that’s making my heart beat so crazy fast that I can’t even feel the hands.
In my experience, we feel those hands in the times when we use our own. When we wrap our hands around someone else — even if they’re too afraid to recognize what we’re doing for them – we connect with the hands of Someone wrapped around us, too.
Because in a sense, they’re the same hands, doing the same thing. Lovingly helping someone get to a place where they can fly again.