Beside the door hung a basket of evergreen boughs which I passed to plug in the outdoor colored lights. Above, the bare porch light glowed brightly within its broken fixture. I wondered if something could possibly roost there, with the glass missing and nothing to hang on to. Still, it was a protected and warm spot. I noticed cedar boughs swaying gently and small white spots on the concrete below.
My family thought it must be an owl or a bat. But owls are silent flyers. Other birds flutter, while bats flap. We were awakened one night some years ago by this distinct flapping sound when several bats came down our chimney and one found its way beneath our bedroom door. It was not a sound I would easily forget.
Hearing my line of reasoning, they teased that maybe it was the “Ghost of Christmas Past”. Whatever it was, it was very small. On Christmas evening, as I reached for the light cord, something as light, soft, and warm as a breeze grazed my cheek. The ghost bird had touched me.
By the next evening, the entire landscape was transformed by heavy snow. My family had grown used to, and a bit tired of, my nightly escapades with the ghost bird. I quietly opened the door and peeked up at the light. Nothing. Moving slowly, I aimed the full beam of a flashlight deep within the greens. There, protected from wind, rain, snow and rude lights, a tiny, puffed up, brown bird slept. As I watched, it lifted its head from under its wing and stared with sleepy, obsidian eyes. Switching the light off, I waited, but it didn’t fly away. I backed into the house and left it to the night.
The next few nights I watched for this Winter Wren, but he was gone. Maybe he’d gotten tired of being disturbed night after night; maybe I frightened him badly enough that he wouldn’t return to his safe retreat; maybe he flew off into the snow and perished. Maybe... I never knew.
What I do know is that, without realizing it, I gave one small creature the gift of warmth and shelter. In that season of giving, he returned the favor - I learned some valuable lessons: Be alert and aware of your surroundings. We may hear what we cannot see, see what we cannot hear. Many things exist that we may neither hear nor see. Intuition serves us well. Be aware of signs, subtle reminders; keep your heart and mind open to all kinds of possibilities, even when others do not agree. Persevere - learn, strive and hone your senses, for many things become more clear in time. Do your part. Know that you will have times of belief and disbelief, caring and carelessness, enlightenment and blindness. You will touch - and be touched by - others. If we seek, we will find, even if it is not what we think we are searching for. Within it all there is God, the life-force that sees us through.
I said, ‘Let days speak,
and many years teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in a man,
the breath of the Almighty,
that makes him understand.
Job 32:7 & 8
Winter Wren picture file from Wikimedia Commons