"When I embraced this bird... though it stood entirely motionless and did not flee or flinch... turns out, it was very much alive!"
I had a powerful experience earlier this week when I was given the opportunity to be the helper... in a very unusual manner... as I happened upon a wounded owl. Yes, I said, OWL.
I was driving down the road late one night when suddenly, there was an OWL, just like the one pictured below, standing upright on the ground, right in front of me. It was after ten o'clock and there was another vehicle pulling over on the other side of the road.
The other driver and I both ventured to walk up to the mysterious owl standing in the middle of the road, and when the owl did not even flinch -- only stood there 'all poofed up' -- we thought it might be dead... even though it was standing upright.
We got closer... very carefully (have you ever seen the talons on these creatures? I can tell you, they are NOT small!!).
As we ventured VERY carefully, and slowly, we were trying to sort out what to do! We were on an open highway, and surely, there would be another vehicle coming soon. I was already blocking the lane with my vehicle, and all of us... the other woman, myself, and the quietly STILL owl, were all standing right smack in the middle of the road. So something had to happen fast!
We contemplated the situation for just a few moments, while the other woman talked on the phone to someone about the situation... And finally, I got so close -- within inches of my nose -- that I was certain this thing was still alive. My tiny flashlight aiming down to not disrupt, I assessed what to do next.
And then... it happened. I mustered the courage to 'be the one' to move this owl out of the road.
So, I went for it, bare-handed.... as I very slowly came to the aid of this wounded bird. What an amazing experience!!! I cannot say that enough.
This raptor! This "nighttime's greatest bird of prey"... This hunter. It needed help, and I was going to do it.
I moved very slowly, as I placed each of my hands on each side of the bird... right over its wing/leg area on each side... And then, as I did this, it moved! So now I knew... it was NOT DEAD! It wasn't liking this very much... but also... it wasn't moving out of the road on its own. It was probably completely in shock and disoriented, likely had made contact with a car, though it showed no damage. And, it was standing in the middle of the road, motionless. It even had a big field mouse it had dropped, laying nearby in the road.
So, this large bird was definitely alive, standing on its feet, totally still, and I was going to pick it up bare-handed, and move it out of the road.
My goodness. As I tell this story, I am SO humbled and amazed!! How on earth did I manage to handle an OWL?! Goodness, owls are SO scarce to let anyone anywhere near them, let alone, touch them! I was amazed. And, honestly, I'm even more amazed as I try to tell the story.
So... I put my hands on it, and IT moved. It opened and stretched both feet, with very large talons fully intact... as I stood there with bare legs wearing shorts and sandals, and bare hands picking up this bird!
As I had my hands upon it, each tiny bit IT moved, I would stop, keeping my hands on it, while I talked to it. I was telling the owl exactly what I was going to do. That I was simply moving it to the side of the road, into safety. And so, after many stops, and a lot of quiet talk, finally, I had the bird fully IN my hands, off the ground, and I walked with it, very gently, to the furthest side of the road I could reach... and set it down, still standing!! I then went and found its food, the mouse it had been carrying, and I put that right next to it, as well. Whew... success! We got the owl out of the road, and I was totally unharmed and we were all safe!
I talked with the young woman, and the man she had summoned to the scene... and they both thought the bird would just die right there... I was not willing to agree with that... but we all said goodbye and they drove off.
It was then, that I felt I couldn't leave yet. After sitting in my vehicle for a few moments, I got out and started praying for the owl. Then I sang to the owl. All the while, the bird continued to stand there, in total stillness. It wasn't going anywhere...
Eventually, after some time passed, I felt complete and said goodbye to the owl, and I returned to my vehicle and drove off. But before doing that, I exhausted all of my prayers for this bird... and said goodbye.
During that night, I thought long and hard about this owl. I wondered what that was all about... such a powerful encounter, and so mysterious... Then, I even had an owl nearby where I slept that night, screeching at me, many times through the night... as if it knew!?
How amazing it was that this very powerful bird *allowed me*... to be its savior in that moment. This bird *allowed me* to pick it up in my hands. This bird *allowed me*... to embrace it! What an honor. What a powerful, words-cannot-describe-this, moment!
The next morning... I ventured back to the place where I had left the owl... and the bird was gone.
The young woman who was there that night was going to call the animal rescue folks after we left, but I have not seen any evidence that they actually rescued that bird.
My vision, my hope and prayer during that night, and while I sang for that bird, was that it would indeed... fly away. I prayed for its safe flight.
So, I like to think that, indeed, it flew away that night.
I am honored to have been given the privilege of helping this bird. I am honored to have been allowed to embrace it. Even if just for a moment, that was really quite something!
A brief and beautiful moment... where human and wild creature met, made contact. In peace. In grace. And very much, in trusting embrace.
We never know where the next helping hand will come from... AND... we never know where OUR helping hand, will be needed and embraced... next.
I am humbled and honored, that this one, was for me!
Staying open... I am here!