Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)
By Jason Elliotson
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He mused inwardly at the thought. His heart smirked and winced at the same time, but his face didn’t change. He still stared with unseeing eyes into the ground in front of him. The sun still smiled warmly as it slipped low in the sky. The air was pleasant, gentle, alive, merrily scattering the heavy fragrance of lilacs and apple blossoms.
He just didn’t understand. So many had said he’d feel better. Others had said life would come together the way he wanted it to. ‘An abundant life!’ He recalled the promises of those well-meaning people and rolled his eyes, shifting his weight. But things were getting worse. His shoulders slumped. He looked toward heaven as tears threatened his composure. Why? It wasn’t supposed to be like this! He could hear his little nephew screaming from inside the house. That kid was demanding!
“Come out from them! Come to Me! I will change you! I will give you a life!” He’d heard it so clearly inside...or sensed it; he wasn’t entirely sure really, but the call was unmistakable. He knew he needed to be changed, and he knew somehow it meant the road less traveled, but such a rough, narrow road? A resigned sigh escaped him as he closed his eyes and slowly shook his head. He was always falling down now. He studied and prayed, but still managed to humiliate himself trying to obey and apply what was written. The sense of pride he’d always carried himself with was lying in tattered shreds all around him. This life was much harder, not easier. ‘They were wrong,’ He thought.
His eyes opened in time to catch movement under the apple tree in the yard. He peered closer and saw a tiny shape in the thin grass, slightly fluffy, mostly naked, eyes wide, mouth agape. It was breathing heavily. “I know how you feel little guy,” He said out loud. Motion above drew his attention. Two adult Cardinals rallied to their fallen little one, their short, thin “chip” notes filling the air. He watched for a half hour as the little bird made its way across the yard, hopping until it was tired, resting until it had strength enough to go again. Its parents stayed the entire time, flying to and fro, feeding and encouraging.
He pitied the poor little thing. It had struggled on its own to crack the shell it was born out of. And here it was, out of its nest way too soon, struggling across the yard. It wasn’t even going the right direction; the nest was behind...and up. It seemed to be moving toward the cover of a dark cedar hedge. At least it might find some rest there.
In a blur, a cat came from under the hedge. The little bird didn’t have a chance. As its parents called frantically and harried the predator from the air, he flew into the yard. As startled as the little bird was when the cat pounced, so the cat was as he swung it into the air by the scruff of its neck. He sent the cat fleeing and turned his attention to the little bird on the ground. He scooped it into the palm of his hand, frightened but unharmed. He placed it in a pocket in his shirt and climbed the tree to its nest. There was a naked, newly hatched chick lying beside a pale blue egg with a tiny hole in it. A tiny egg-tooth on the end of a tiny beak appeared in the hole, as he set the little bird back in the nest. “You’ve got a second chance little guy,” He said quietly. “Kinda like being born again eh? Learn to fly before you jump.” A faint smile teased his lips.
‘You are worth more than many sparrows.’ The message forced a tear from under his eyelid. He didn't know yet how this would teach him of his own rebirth a little more. Birth is difficult and miraculous. Rebirth is impossible, therefore miraculous. He would learn to crawl before walking, to run before soaring. He would be raised again from infancy into a new life, and when he did things his own way, there would be times he would be rescued from the jaws of death. It is hard but... ‘You must be born again.’ His nephew was still screaming.
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