By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
On a cold and foggy rainy morning, I could see from the kitchen window a lonely bird perched on the outer ledge of the carport wall. I don’t know what kind of bird it was. No bright colors like a Cardinal or a Robin. No long legs like a Wren. Smaller too but bigger than the little brown bum birds I most like to feed. Bum birds are my name for the tiny sparrows who hop around the McDonald’s parking lot looking for a french fry. But back to the lonely bird. It just stood there crouched in the drizzle. Two feet to its back was dry brick and seed fallen from the bird feeder above. Lonely bird, gray and black, the size of a child’s fist, preferred the outer ledge. Why? I wondered but did not know.
I believe we can be like that bird. We face out into miserable, unpromising situations while just out of our view is a better place to be with all that we need to get through another day. Why? I wonder but I do not know. I hesitate writing this. It sounds so self-righteous and self-assured, as though I know something most people do not know. I do not. What I do know is that there is always more than the fog and the cold rain. This “more” may be nothing but a dry brick to perch upon or scattered seeds to peck just a wing away.
Life does deal out impossible situations, or seemingly impossible ones, when every breath we take quivers and shakes, and we howl into a dark night with dawn too far away to discern. I have been there. Nonetheless, even when hard times do not get much better, they do become somehow bearable. And without hope or warning, they actually do get better. As my granny used to say, “Even the blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.”
I have been thinking about something I read the other day in devotional material: “Life is here and now, the only place where we touch eternity.” As the Fonz might say, “Hey that’s deep…what’s it mean?” It can mean many things, especially these days. All we have is the present. To try to live in any other place is at worst foolishness and at best science fiction. Do you reckon your political affiliation will matter in eternity? Will your personal notions about God matter in eternity, even the ones thumped by your chosen religion? Will all those names in the graveyard matter? Will you even matter? Here and now is where we touch eternity. And what about that touch? Is eternity flimsy like the wing of a dragonfly? Did we construct it out of some need our childhoods only partially fulfilled, like a toy truck with no wheels or doll with no eyes. Can eternity stand up to our touch here and now? What’s that lonely bird doing out there anyhow? What’s she looking for? How far can she see? The bird is so small, and the day is cold and damp.
I also wondered about the lonely bird’s age. Perhaps he or she is old, tired of looking for the worm, especially on cold days. Perhaps this bird has made the bird breakfast and is preparing for flight regardless of the dark clouds which it fears not. Young bird maybe. Whatever the age, this bird might have lost something and is trying to find it or him or her in the fog. I thought that might explain the painful perch.
I shared these ramblings with my wife when she came into the kitchen. She thought a moment and said, “That bird is definitely a teenager… it doesn’t know what it is doing.” That’s as good a thought for the new day as any. Most of the time, we have no idea of what we are doing. This is not so bad as long as we know it and do not attach too much meaning to what was and to what might be. Life is here and now, the only place where we touch eternity.
I stayed at the kitchen table long enough to see my bird fly away into the woods. I wanted another cup of coffee anyway. All day long and into the next evening, I wondered where he or she was. Do you ever wonder where birds spend the night? Then I looked for my bird the next morning. Gone. I wondered why we attach human ways to the wild kingdom. Maybe it is because it is easier to think about them than about ourselves. Anyway, I’m not a teenager. I know what I am doing. Some of the time.