It is an unseasonably cool day. The rain started early this morning, unrelenting in its monotony, steady sheets followed by slow drips. A seasonal anomaly soaring in value because of increasing scarcity. In just a few days summer’s heat will once again extract lament. But in this momentary spring reprieve the sun is absent from curtain call, so I put on my favorite cardigan sweater before venturing outside. Granting the gray synthetic yarns and the embroidered white threaded giraffe that decorates the left chest a furlough for one last walk to work before returning to hibernation. The Oklahoma clouds approve.
The campus is fading now as a few students unlucky enough to have finals find their way to quieter classrooms. The scene is somber and serious as frivolity gives way to sobriety. The sins of March are atoned for in May.
Two young women wandering about campus clad in springtide shorts flaked by rain boots and rain coats, exhibiting a fashion menagerie, interrupt the solitude of my melancholy. I watch as they excitedly pursue a bird, a common sparrow across the fledgling green grass onto the stubborn red dirt. I look closer. The poor creature is caught, snagged in a plastic mesh that has been discarded by some impulsive underclassman or perhaps some thoughtless adult. Was it me? Our existence clutters and nature suffers.
The two young ladies chatter as the sparrow chirps struggling to free itself from the entanglement and fly again. The young lady wearing blue takes the mesh on one end as the bird beats its wings against the air but can’t generate lift. The sparrow falls to the ground. The girl in blue continues to hold the mesh as the bird wiggles and writhes at the other end of this tether. The girl in yellow slowly separates herself from the experience. Neither girl knows what to do to liberate this creature. Neither do I. I watch for a few moments as both creatures, girl and bird are bound by fear. I sit watching from my window, bound by something else. Apathy.
Eventually, I decide to try. I retrieve a pair of scissors, thinking that perhaps I can cut away the mesh freeing the bird. I walk outside and the crisp wind greets me. The rain has stopped thankfully. I approach the girl in blue taking the end of the mesh she volunteers to surrender. She says something about calling the university police. In moments of crisis we say things appealing to authorities we think may help us. “I don’t think they could help” I respond just as thoughtlessly, as I am focused on this helpless bird. The bird chirps, I can’t help but translate “Help me! Help me!” This is what I would say were I in the same predicament. I carefully start to cut away at the webbing that impedes the bird’s freedom. Unaware that I’m trying to help, the bird flaps its wings to no avail. Feeling the urgency of the moment, I cut strand after strand of the woven net. The bird continues to fight, and then fatigued, the bird just stops.
The girl in yellow returns. She had the same idea as me, retrieving scissors from the library in an effort to help. I wrongly assumed she had just walked away. The bird is still. I continue to sever the shackling strands from its limp body. Then the bird flaps again. This time furiously. Again. Again with ferocious intent. Slowly, powerfully, the wings continue to beat against the air. I shake my end of the entrapment with equal ferocity. We are in sync.
The sparrow finds lift, shaking itself free and soars. Me and the two girls smile at each other. We don’t know where the bird has gone. Then we catch a glimpse of the warbler atop an academic spire, once again free of gravity’s restraints.
May we also be as free.
“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” -Matthew 10:29