The Chimney Swift

I was unlocking my bike after church today when I heard a soft “thump” on the sidewalk followed by a rapid sweeping sound. I turned around to find a bird with long wings and the shortest legs trying to get off the ground. I walked up to it, knelt down, and scooped it up gently with my biking gloves. He didn’t panic or try to fly away. Perhaps he was stunned from having flown into the building. His feathers were entirely grey, with some lighter shades approaching white on his tail and coverts. Pardon my lack of scientific words for these parts, ornithology was my lowest grade in college. I held him for about two minutes, looking him over carefully. He had a few white clumps on him (aerial poo?) and he kept winking his right eye while the left remained opened (did he have a secret for me?).

After I prayed a few good thoughts for him, seeing that he wasn’t fading on me but rather gaining strength, I gradually let go of him and released him to the sky. He fluttered his wings rapidly, not losing any air to fall but climbing in altitude next to the World Trade Center where he may live. He circled once over my head, then headed off to windier breezes.

Seeking my own purpose for being in Long Beach, I found a metaphor in that Chimney Swift. We’re all designed with a purpose to fulfill a niche in life. When we find ourselves suddenly out of our element, we struggle to take off again. Sometimes it requires a helping hand to calm and reassure us that we can get back to soaring. My international teaching career has felt like I’m always traveling, clinging to high cliffs for shelter, and never feeling the salt of the earth. But some creatures aren’t designed to feel the salt of the earth, to hunt for worms and peck at grounded birdseed. Now humans are more adaptable than birds, but when relocating from a windy cliff to an urban lawn, it can feel like its hard to take off. I need to take stock of all those who have come to help me get soaring again. Thanks.

1 comment:

Dzen said...

Great metaphor, Jeff... somehow I always see you as soaring.

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