I sat down to eat my breakfast the other day and promptly heard a boom against the window. I looked and saw a bird conked out on the pavement. The bird must have hit the window, conked its head, and now lay SPLAT right there in front of me, on its back.
It twitched its legs.
Besides that, it did not move.
I was about to eat my yogurt-and-granola peacefully but it seemed that the Universe had a lesson to teach me about dying.
I am a member of my village’s hevra kadisha, the burial circle, so I’m used to seeing a woman in the stillness after death. But I didn’t want to witness this poor bird’s twitching. I did not want to see those final moments before death. I thought, OK, what’s the lesson? Life is so unpredictable, short and fragile. We have to appreciate each moment. We have to find compassion for all creatures. We have to remember our own mortality. And we have to accept what we cannot change.
Got the lesson, I thought. I prayed for the little bird’s soul and its passage to the next life. I wanted to give it some privacy so I went back to eating my breakfast.
Then I felt bad for casually eating while the bird was dying, DYING, so I looked again. And—huh? The bird had popped up while I wasn’t looking. It was standing and looking around as if nothing had happened. Ha!
So what were the next lessons?
We can’t save anyone else. We can love them and pray for them but we sometimes have to sit back and let them either nap or struggle (I’m not sure which) until they can get back on their own two feet.
We don’t know the truth about anyone else. We don’t know what’s really going on in anyone else’s life. Sometimes we think someome is struggling and we can’t bear the discomfort of watching them. We want to jump in and save them. But if I had approached the bird, I might have hurt it more than I could have helped.
Finally, we can’t give up before the miracle. Just when we think it is all over, something amazing could happen. That bird was the hero of its own life story.