A beach walk looking out over the endless sandbar of shorebirds. At some invisible signal all rise into the air, a formation sorted by species, and circle the shore before settling a quarter mile down the coast. Tastier treats? A hidden predator unseen my by obtuse human eyes and senses?
One lone gull slowly makes its way along the muddy tidal flats, one leg in front of the other.
Step, step, step.
A long feather drags along its right side, making it look three-legged and unsteady. Or perhaps, a regal look, a slow and intentional walk down the beach, it’s feather train lightly trailing in the the sand.
I think it’s wing is broken, I say aloud. The woman looks contemplatively at me. Your wing is broken, too, she says, and I look down at my arm bound up tenderly in it’s sling.
Indeed, it is.
For me, this is no life or death scenario. In fact, this time given for me to walk the shore, to connect with the sand and the waters, is possibly saving me, the opposite of the likely death sentence that a broken flight feather is to that gull.
Nothing to do.
I watch the bird slowly make its way, alone, the others long gone to better feeding zones. Thirty minutes later, as I meander back the other direction I see it again, now resting on a sand bar, belly flat on the sand. Shortly it stands, spreads its wings, flaps once, and, finding its’ wings unusable, unable to function in their intended capacity, the gull folds them back into place and begins, once again, the slow paced movement that now is it’s life.
As for me, my wing will heal, and I will be all the stronger for it. My predators will not find me weakened. This is no death sentence. My life will continue, my broken wing just a memory, a story to tell, for these are not the things that destroy us.
Our damaged flight feathers are not revealed by our physical injuries; they are not seen by the naked eyes of those strolling the beaches. How different it might be would that such things were visible? Would that our limping dreams could be seen by eyes and hearts given to fierce compassion for the fractured bits; could be tended to and nurtured as we do the broken wings of birds, pouring love into spirit that we may one day soar again.