The fierce winds lasted only about 10 minutes, but that is all it took to fell the towering pine down the street. Its trunk was taller than the width of the road it crashed onto, and it took out the street light on the corner across from its previous station when it fell.
A crowd of neighbors gathered around the tree. Some very helpful young boys had worked with the adults to haul the tree from the street back onto its owner's property. One of those boys was telling me all about the event when he spotted a tiny bird on the ground, its feathers of two colors, light maze and soft grey. Its tiny body pulsed hard as it struggled to breathe. The boy cried out to his parents: "Look! Mom, Dad! There's a baby bird here, it's been hurt! But it's still alive. We need to do something."
The boy's father casually replied: "The bird will be all right. It's going to die. Come on, son." The boy looked at his father with wide eyes, stood stock still, and then followed his father as his parent continued his stroll with the family dog.
It's true, the baby bird could not have been saved. It's also true, though, that this young-man-to-be expressed real compassion, only to be met with a father's unthoughtful and misleading response. It was a missed opportunity--a moment when a parent could have a) praised his son for showing compassion for another creature; b) explained that no, the bird was not going to be "all right," in the sense that his life would be ended; and c) discuss how these things happen in nature, how death is a part of life. He could have shared his son's sadness--even for just a moment.
I wonder what will happen when the family dog's time on earth is over, when a grandparent dies--will this same father simply say, "It's all right. They're dead." ?
I don't mean to be critical of the dad. I'm sure he was caught completely off guard and was trying to protect his son from watching the creature die. But it was a missed opportunity--and reminds me not to miss those same opportunities when they come my way.
As I walked on, I thought of the song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow." I believe that as that Eye gazes down upon us, its owner wants us to have compassion for all his sparrows, wherever they may be found.