“She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” in the sky.” – Monique Duval, author of The Persistence of Yellow
The local birds seem to think our yard is their sanctuary. In the morning, if I’m sitting at my kitchen table, I can view hummingbirds and sparrows flitting among the branches of the large Mimosa tree outside the window. They poke their beaks into the tree blossoms, sing cheerful tunes, chase each other. As I’m not an aviary expert, some birds I don’t recognize, like one with a bright yellow breast that burst into our yard and disappeared too quickly after I called everyone in the house to come look at it. Though I tried to describe its magnificence to them, I know my description paled in comparison to its true brilliance. These beautiful and entertaining creatures of my yard continue to bring me a daily smile.
But there is one breed of bird I have never liked – the crow. Crows are loud, screechy, annoyingly early risers. At the school where I teach, the crows disturb my class with their squawking, pull entire lunch bags out of students’ backpacks and take off with them. I have never noticed anything lovely or gentle about them. I know they are also part of God’s creation, but still, I see one and think, Oh, there’s one of those annoying crows. Please get off my lawn.
But, often the most unexpected and seemingly unlikable things are used by God, right? One quick glance at those Jesus chose as disciples proves that. He didn’t choose the religious leaders, the wealthy, or the popular. He chose simple people, mostly fishermen, as well as a despised tax collector, Matthew, to follow him and lead others to do the same. So, I suppose it should be no surprise that the least beautiful bird in my yard recently had the biggest impact on me.
My husband saw the crow first. “Hey, come here, you’ve gotta see this.”
He directed me to the patio outside our bedroom window and said, “Looks like a baby, probably fell from its nest.”
What I saw lying on the ground did not look like a baby to me, but more like a very sad and injured adult crow. But my reaction was not my usual annoyed one. For the first time ever, I felt pity for this crow.
Because my husband still seemed to think it was a baby, I looked up pictures of baby crows on the internet. There on the screen were babies that looked as big and grown up as the one in my yard. Of course, the internet led me down a path of research on baby crows, and what I learned was that it is quite common for baby crows to fall from their nest before they are able to fly. When this happens, they can spend up to six weeks or more learning survival skills until they are able to fly. If there is significant injury from the fall, the bird could die.
Now I really felt bad. After returning to my window to look at the bird more closely, I listened to its sad, scared caw and noticed a red stain on the cement beneath him.
“Oh no, it’s bleeding. Do you think it will make it?” I asked my husband, as if he had more bird knowledge than me.
“I don’t know,” he said, “but that doesn’t look good.”
Now I was on a mission. I looked up what to do for an injured bird, learned that if there’s blood, it’s likely it won’t survive without help, but that bringing it to a wildlife rehabilitation center may not help it either. It may be too injured to safely place back into the wild.
After all this, I realized I had forgotten one very important step in helping the bird. Unfortunately, it is what I often do when worrying about something. I google information about my concern, fret over what scares me, and in the midst of trying to bring things back into control, forget who is really the one in charge. I forget to cast my care to God.
In the next couple days, as I watched the mama crow and other crows watch over, sit beside, feed, and cheer on this baby crow, I kept hearing the passage from Matthew 6:26-27, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (NIV)
I had spent too much time lately in that needless state of worry – about my job, or my health, my husband’s increasing demands at work, an upcoming kitchen remodel. My biggest worries were fairly consistently about my kids, and not for any necessary reason. They were all doing well. Two are in college and two have successfully left the nest. I know God holds them in the palm of his hand, but I still fall into that trap of wondering if they will be okay. Have I taught them well? Have I been a good mom? Will the world beat them down? Will they be a victim of some accident or someone’s cruelty? Are they happy? Will they hold true to their values? Will they remember they have a God who loves them?
That last question is the most important one. But, I realize it’s not just important for my children; it’s important for me too. Am I remembering I have a God who loves me dearly and will not disappoint me? Am I remembering that he is in charge, and if he knows what the birds of my yard need, he certainly knows what I need and what every one of my children need?
Over the next several days, I would wake to Baby Crow’s caw, identified by its much squeakier sound when compared to the crow we now identified as mama crow, who would respond back immediately to baby crow, as if to say, “I’m here, don’t worry little crow, I’m here.” Each time I would hear them, I would pray and remember that God was in charge.
Baby Crow began moving and would hop from one end of the patio to the other, eventually making its way to the backyard. Now it faced the bigger threat of our dog, who barked wildly at Baby Crow as it sat in a corner of the yard, still unable to fly away.
One afternoon, I realized the crow had managed to make its way to the front yard, quite a miraculous feat for this crow who couldn’t fly. The next morning, I lay in bed waiting to hear baby crow’s caw, but heard nothing. I thought I heard it from a couple houses away, but I definitely didn’t hear it in our yard anymore, nor did I see it after a fairly thorough scan through the yard. I felt hopeful that it had happily flown away even though I kind of missed seeing it in my yard.
Several days later, as we sat outside eating dinner, we heard the squawking of two crows above us, one that sounded a bit younger and squeakier than the other. Sitting way up high, on top of a telephone pole, was mama bird, placing food into the mouth of baby bird. Baby crow had made it. The best part of that evening was simply sitting and watching mama crow and baby crow, and even a few other crows, fly from pole to tree to wire to fence, squawking that familiar crow caw.
I have a new favorite bird. I love the sweet hummingbirds and cute, bouncy sparrows that bustle around my yard and fill it with harmonious chirping sounds. But I wait and listen for that caw, that sound that is like a new language to me, a language that reminds me of how God has everything under control, taking care of each and every one of us, shouldering our unneeded worries. And I think the crows might all be saying Yes to me in agreement, as they glide and swoop worry free through the sky.