Just One Feather

One feather

Have you ever had that moment when a squirrel darts out into the street as you’re driving by but it’s not safe to swerve so you keep going and cringe and wait for the thump…but it never comes?  That happened this morning as Carlos and I were driving to school (well, I was driving because his license has been suspended for being a TODDLER).  The squirrel ran straight for my tire.  I cringed.  Then I peeped in the rear view mirror and didn’t see anything splattered behind me, so I figured the squirrel performed some kind of magic and ran between the tires.

Thinking about that squirrel, and a friend who lost her husband this week, and that time I lost my husband–it all made me think about how we dart between the tires all day long.  There is so much risk in being alive, so many wheels flying past us as we’re just trying to get a few acorns back to the nest.  We can’t stay in the nest with our babies or they and we would starve.  We have to go hunting for acorns when the fall makes them plentiful.  It’s risky, but it’s why we survive.

Perhaps I should switch to decaf because I really do a LOT of thinking before the sun is high in the sky.

Once we got to school, I opened the car door to lift Carlos out of his seat.  His face lit up like we hadn’t seen each other in days.  He squealed, “MOMMY!” and flung himself into my arms.  I stood there between the minivans with my face buried in the dark curls under his ear and told him how I loved him more than anything else in the world.  How I would do anything to keep him safe and happy and growing.  He whispered, “Gotcha, baby,” and squeezed me between his tiny arms.   That’s what I usually say every morning when I pick him up from his car seat.  When he’s upset or startled or crying, I hold him tight and say, “Mommy’s got you.  Mommy’s got you.  You’re OK.”  I guess he could feel that I needed that this morning.

It’s all just so much some days.  Like walking across a tightrope and you can’t resist looking down.

On my walk into my office, I did look down.  And there lay a soft gray feather on the sidewalk.  I love feathers.  The hollow shaft that makes it strong and light–the only reason a bird can fly with all that architecture and not be weighed down.  The fluffy tuft of down for warmth because it’s cold when you get far away from the earth.  The gentle curve, like the curve of the horizon where the earth ends and the sky begins.

It takes thousands of miraculous feathers to make an ordinary sparrow.  Just like us, that tiny bird is a hodgepodge of miracles that all seem to work most of the time.  Soft and warm, hollow and light, brave and gentle.

But here’s the lesson I got from that feather on the sidewalk:  it was just one feather, one feather of a thousand that make up that bird.  Loss is real and loss affects us.  Loss may even slow us down or ground us for a while.  But it’s just one feather.  That bird flew on without it.

The squirrel made it back to the nest.  Carlos made it to the story rug.  Mommy made it to her desk.  The sparrow continued to soar.

Peace to you today if you are feeling afraid.  You can still fly, even as you lose feathers along the way.

16 thoughts on “Just One Feather

  1. onetreenotaforest

    Ashley, it always amazes me, though I know it shouldn’t, that your words seem to be spoken directly to me and for me more often that not. Thank you, my friend!

  2. mollytopia

    “Gotcha, baby” ooh that got me. So sweet. I love the feather analogy – very well done, my friend. I’m glad you didn’t squish the squirrel, and I’m sending happy vibes to your friend.


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