My Encounter with Mama Cardinal

It was a busy Tuesday afternoon and I took a shortcut to class through the raised beds behind the building. I almost didn’t see her lying there behind the big concrete column. I was sad to see the motionless chubby figure, and I paused for a moment to honor her life.

Later, when the class went outside, she was gone! One of my students, Blake, and I quickly found her over against the brick wall behind the glass doors. Had someone moved her farther out of the path to await a scavenger?

Omigosh! The small crowd of boys gathered around started all at once. She cocked her head to one side at us! Looking closely, it seemed that one of her wings was a little away from her body, maybe bruised, maybe broken. I decided she needed to be on the earth so she could reach bugs and worms.

I gently cupped my hands around her wings, but she shook herself, and miracluously hopped up onto my left finger. Blake called me the Bird Whisperer. She stayed on my hand as I slowly walked to one of the raised garden beds. But as soon as I bent down intending her to walk off to the waiting soil, she fluttered her wings and glided back to the sidewalk. The very place we had wanted to save her from.

The next morning I saw a nervous male cardinal hopping from limb to limb in the trees, and I wondered if Mama Cardinal had found her way home. I remembered how it felt to have her perch on my finger, to feel her push off when she flew away. So exhilarating! She was so light, even heavy with eggs as she obviously was.

The experience stayed with me for days, fresh in my thoughts and emotions. Even now the memory brings up feelings on wonder and wanderlust and wildness. She was not bound to where I was going to put her. And I think I can learn from her brave example to not stay where others put me.

Thank you for allowing me to weave my story with yours, Mama Cardinal. Blessed be.

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