Winter 2015

Just now I am sitting at my cherry dining room table which was bought with a single and final paycheck when Jeremy finished his private school music teaching career as we moved onto full time ministry.

Our table is located in my favorite spot in the house, with clear views of both the kitchen and living room., two rooms that flow together with one graceful motion. I have the clearest view of any the house has to offer of our back deck and backyard neighborhood, and the view of the mountain in the front.

My youngest daughter has placed a orange piece of felt by our sliding glass door, one that has hearts and lines sewn into it-evidence of sewing practice. The fabric is about three feet long and placed there for the benefit of keeping the birds, who come to lunch on the birdseed we place on the patio side table, warm should they decide to wrap up in it. It is nice watching some bit of life happen during the cold and frustratingly long months of winter.

Gimpy, a tiny, full feathered bird all of about one pound I’m guessing, and aptly named by my youngest daughter, came to us about two months ago, with one working leg and one leg that was clearly mangled and simply hung from the rest of his torso. To watch him walk is something to the effect of hop, wobble, flap, hop, wobble, flap, hop, wobble, flap. Gimpy leans to one side where his right leg should have been working and balancing him, helping him walk in a normal gait. Instead he falls onto his side, pushes himself up and starts the process over again giving himself a flap of the wings as he refocuses on his purpose.

Gimpy sits and pecks at the seeds surrounding him. When those seeds are finished and he has gotten all the nutrients possible, he starts the process all over and moves to another seed ridden spot on the table. Hop, wobble, flap. Hop, wobble, flap.

We’ve been concerned about Gimpy making it through some our coldest days and nights. In fact, we didn’t see him for a few weeks. Today, however, as I sit in my favorite spot at my dining room table and watch as Gimpy, who no longer has the mangled leg (apparently it has fallen off somewhere along his journey) continues his hop, wobble, flap routine with gusto. It seems he has learned how to manage quite fine with only one working leg.

When my children were quite small and we lived in a much larger house a bird, a decent sized sparrow, inadvertently (I’m assuming that it wasn’t on a dare from his fellow birds) flew into our family room and spent the next few moments in a frantic race through our downstairs trying to find his way out again, leaving purple reminders on our walls that berries were in season and he had just recently eaten lunch. We raced through the house after our guest trying to do who knows what-catch him perhaps, or at least make sure he didn’t get stuck behind a cabinet only to be found 3 months later, decomposing and stinking. He raced through our family room, hallway, kitchen, back through the hallway in the other direction, entered our living room and, apparently noticing the straightened path ahead of him, with a straight shot through the dining room, and visions of trees, grass and his home turf shining through the windows at the other end of the fairway, he picked up speed to fly as fast as a bird can fly, and ran smack dab into the middle of our dining room glass panels with the loudest thud you can imagine. He fell in a perfectly perpendicular line landing on floor underneath him and didn’t move.

He was either dead or knocked out cold.

We had never witnessed such a thing and stood with a silent unknowing of what to do next. No one spoke for at least 10 seconds. We just looked from the bird to each other back to the bird. My children’s mouths hung open.

Jeremy decidedly retrieved the shovel from the garage and carried the now subdued visitor to a proper disposal in the treeline that separated our property from the next. We looked the next day for the little visitor, but he was gone. Either a cat found him and did his part to complete the circle of life or the bird had some much needed rest time, awoke, shook it off as if just another day at the office and continued on being a bird.

So here enters Gimpy-only one character in the life that is ours. It’s a miracle really. Watching this tiny creature not only live but thrive on something as tiny as a sunflower seed and only one leg.

He cares not for us, doesn’t know that we find great delight in watching him through our window, but none the less brings us an enormous amount of joy in being able to be part of his life. He doesn’t know that we’ve named him Gimpy or that we spend parts of our day worrying about his welfare, or that we talk to him through the glass doors, call him buddy and stop what we are doing to call the family over to watch him, or that we find a simple satisfaction in seeing him accidentally throw a seed off the table and look wonderingly where it went, only to go and try to retrieve it. He doesn’t know that we give voice to him using our own sense of what a bird might be thinking, and if he were human what he might be saying.

Gimpy is a hard working, don’t get me down type. A fighter with a sweet spirit. Some of his buddies are the “living life with and inexplicable joy” type just doing what birds do. But not Gimpy. Gimpy lives life with purpose.

But for all we know his given name is Stephen.

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