He just couldn’t believe it! He had traveled these skies his whole life, but suddenly it seemed he had lost his navigational compass sense. For days now he had been aimlessly soaring this way and that, praying for a miracle or some glimmer of hope and certainty.
Micah came down from the heights at dusk, a little afraid of the moon’s shadows up close and personal, exhausted from his wanderings, landing on a gigantic rock flanked by a large oak tree.
“Who-who-who are you?” the wise creature’s question startled pondering Micah.
“My name is Micah. I seem to be lost.”
“How-how-how is it, my son, that you are separated from the rest of your companions?”
“I lingered too long at the launching party,” hanging his head in shame, “when Mrs. Hen was explaining the benefits of short wing spans, and I guess I figured I could follow them and catch up later.”
“What a dilemma! For, as you can see, I am too old and too tired to show you the way, my boy,” and Mr. Owl blinked his huge rheumy eyes once before they drooped shut for his late evening nap.
Micah, bewildered by the days’ failures, soon grew sleepy himself, so he flew up and perched close to his new friend, glad for the extra warmth and companionship. The northern winds grew cold as the night progressed and the darkness enveloped the old tree and its occupants until sunrise.
Micah awoke with a start. He had been dreaming of a cold bath only to awaken with his feathers all coated with snow. Shivering, he shook off the white powder and looked around for something to eat. The only worm he found appeared to be frozen, but he knew that “beggars can’t be choosers”, so he breakfasted on frozen meat, which made his belly quiver and his eye glassy.
“Oh dear, oh dear, if only I had left with the others! Let’s see, what day is it? The party was on Tuesday, so this must be Friday, December 22. I MUST find my way today, of I’ll not get home for Christmas!” and two large hot tears dripped from Micah’s eyes, landing on the ground below and melting the snow under his feet.
“What’s that?” Micah wondered, as he saw frozen ruts in the dirt that shaped into an arrow pointing to the left. The ruts were actually Evan’s webbed footprints, his best friend—he would know them anywhere!
Quickly, Micah fluttered his wing across the ground, like a broom sweeping a sidewalk, until he could follow the entire marked path. When it suddenly stopped, he saw a familiar landmark in the distance, a scrawny ice-covered shrub where he and his friends would sometimes rest halfway through their winter journey.
Happily gliding up against the gray clouds, Micah chirped his happiness as he passed mountain peaks and trees and rocks he recognized, landing every so often for a short rest between flights. Would he make it home in time? Because if he wasn’t home for Christmas this year, he might never see his gentle human friend again, who was growing old, his white hair last year reaching almost to his robe-corded waistline with gait slow and labored.
A few hours later, Micah’s forested destination came into view, and he heaved a great sigh of relief when he heard the donkeys braying and the sheep bleating and the other birds singing Christmas carols. Excitedly joining the birds on the roof of the rough-hewn stable by the gold carved star, he peeked below through a slat to see the hand-made manger filled with fresh sweet-smelling hay where a tiny tightly-swathed baby lay, his mother and father standing guard beside him.
“Why the Connors have a newborn! A little birdie never told me that,” Micah marveled.
And there HE sat, his human friend, his hooded robe enveloping his emaciating form, while the animals of the forest ate from his hands. His voluminous pockets held all kinds of treats, Micah knew.
Before long the woodsmen and townspeople arrived with candles brightly lining the way to the stable to celebrate Christmas together, as St. Francis of Assisi read the pure and true story of Jesus’ birth so many years ago.
Micah’s bass-throated melody blended in perfect harmony with the unique choir of worshipers as he flew to take his assigned seat on St. Francis’ left shoulder.
“Ah, home for Christmas, and all is well,” his heart chimed as everyone chanted “AMEN!” in unison.
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