Heroes Start Small

So Barefoot Girl rescued a fledgling bird last night from the clutches of a neighborhood cat.

We were all having fun with a before-bed game of frisbee in the front yard when we heard what we hear too often: the terrible sound of a caught baby animal. A neighbor cat was running down the driveway next to ours carrying the crying animal before it jumped into the weeds across the road.

In my cynical adult mentality, I was more than willing to watch the cat run into the weeds with the crying animal and turn away from the pain I could do nothing about. Not Barefoot Girl. She followed the sound and ran to the other side of the woods (barefoot, of course) where the cat emerged with a baby bird still crying in its mouth.

Somehow, she saved this baby bird from the cat. I don’t know how. She says she tricked the cat into dropping it – who does that?? A determined kid, that’s who. She came walking back with a fledgling that looks like a cat or cow bird – somehow unhurt – and put it back where we think it came from.

And the bird was still alive this morning, on the ground again. I’ve been watching and I’ve only seen parents go down to it once, so we’ll see what happens with it.

This girl amazes me. She makes me remember what it’s like to be young, full of hope and the belief that anything is possible if we try. An adult already considers it impossible to save a bird from a disappeared cat – a kid says there’s a chance. This bird might live . . . I’m gonna give it a chance. She reminds me that instead of running from pain, we should run toward it: to fix it, to heal it, or at least to feel it.

We never ignore it.

Kids also make us aware of how involved they are in their actual (not perceived!) life. They’re not consumed with stress and worry over matters that are far away from them and they have no control over. They’re busy making a difference in the here and now in whatever way life presents itself. How can we, as adults, become more place-centered the way they are?

I know that for me, it’s an intentional shift everyday to really attend to what’s around me. I know that other than some thoughtful political involvement, there’s not a lot I can really do to affect the greater world. But what I can do is love the family and friends that I have, to spread healing wherever there is pain, to make a home that feeds the souls of all who come into contact with it. The reality is that for most of us our circle of real influence is small, but if we care well for those small circles, they combine with other circles to eventually produce a positive change in the world.

It all starts with hope. Hope that there is a chance.

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