So, I saw something sort of extraordinary a few days ago.
I work two jobs at the moment. One of them is at a place called "Provo Beach Resort." It's a family fun place, with arcade games and bowling and a carousel and indoor surfing and all sorts of stuff like that. Anyway, it's a very big facility. And somehow, birds have recently found a way to get into the building. I'd say two or three birds find their way inside every week. And then they get stuck, and frantically look for a way out.
A few days ago, we had a bird in the kitchen. It was trying to get away, and in the process it flew violently into a few windows and got pretty hurt.
Eventually, it must have hit its head pretty hard against a clear glass door, because it stopped trying to escape. It just stood on the floor, beak gaping open, breathing heavily and occasionally twitching around and staring at us. It was traumatized.
"That bird is going to die," my boss said, matter-of-factly. Probably true, I thought. It can't handle the shock. You can tell by looking at it.
My boss put on some gloves and carefully picked the bird up. The bird didn't fight or flee, didn't react at all. Then my boss took it outside and set it down on some nearby mulch. I watched out the window as the confused bird stood there, beak still gaping open.
The bird stood in the exact same spot, only twitching its head occasionally, for eleven minutes straight. I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was terrified, confused, and hurt.
I knew it was going to die.
Then, suddenly, the bird seemed to spring to life. With new strength, it immediately flew away, and never looked back. I breathed a sigh of relief. Somehow, that bird had overcome its shock - had overcome the surprise and hurt of its traumatizing experience. The bird had found within itself the faith to fly again.
Often we get hurt, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Life hurts. Love hurts. And sometimes we get really surprised at how painfully we can fail at our endeavors. We get traumatized. We get paralyzed. We look around in confusion, wondering how things went wrong, wondering how the apparent path to beautiful freedom turned out to be a glass window all along. Wondering how we got so hurt.
And when the nightmare ends, and we are left outside by ourselves, we might act just like that bird did for eleven minutes: unable or unwilling to do anything but breathe. Afraid to go anywhere or do anything, unwilling to trust that the rest of the world isn't out to get us.
But in the end, there is still strength in us. We just have to remember it. Once we do, we can rediscover our faith. We can go forward with a knowledge that the world has so much more to offer than pain.
We can fly again.