This past week my husband and I found a bird in the lobby while cleaning a building.
Now, I care about the organization whose building we were cleaning. But I think all would agree that a wild bird would find any building to be a hell. As I had a chance to reflect, the bird’s saga reminded me of too many times when I or those I love have been caught in our own personal hells.
When we saw the bird, my husband tried to open the outer doors so the bird could fly free. But it is hard, when in hell, to know who or what to trust. In this case, the bird darted past us, flying through the labyrinthine hallways, into a room near an exit.
Here again, we attempted to coax the bird out a door to freedom. But the bird, panicked, darted down yet another hallway.
Two things are worth mentioning at this point.
First, my husband had seen an e-mail from the week prior, where a bird was reported in the largest room in the building, a room with a ceiling more than twenty feet high. The person reporting this had left the doors leading out of the large room open, in hopes that the bird might both escape the room, as it would surely die were it to remain in that large room.
Second, I had gone the other way through the hallways, shutting any doors left ajar.
The bird ended up at the front of the building again, flying straight towards freedom. My husband had propped open a door. But the bird flew straight into a window flanking the open door, likely to avoid being within arms’ reach of my husband. The bird fluttered aloft again and retreated to a perch at the far side of the lobby, which we had now closed off from the other hallways. My husband similarly backed away from the open door.
After a moment of resting, the bird flew towards freedom again. But again the bird hugged the wall, leading it directly to the window.
Helpless, we watched as the bird tried a third time, this time flying so hard that the impact knocked the bird to the floor, motionless.
My husband approached from behind. The bird, desperate, flapped away.
Through the open inner door.
But the bird collapsed before it made it through the outer door.
My husband carefully closed the inner door, leaving only a path to true freedom.
While my husband left to finish what we had come to do, I sat near the door, waiting for the bird to either expire or escape. There was plenty of time to reflect on how I and others had beat our souls bloody trying to escape from our own hells. There was time to reflect on how I, at least, had not been willing to take advantage of the helps that lay on every side. There were the times when I and others had been so destroyed that escape seemed futile.
The bird kept breathing, though shallowly. I waited, watching.
Then, to my surprise, the bird fluttered the wings that had been so awkwardly splayed akimbo. It hopped to its feet. Then, before I could have said anything, the bird took flight, soaring out the door to freedom.
May we, also, always keep trying to overcome the limitations that bind us. May those of us trying to help know that, at times, the one who needs help must rest before accepting the aid we so wish to grant.
Over all, may we, though bruised and hurting, find our way to the escape our Savior offers us.