The first bird seemed dead or near death. She sat frozen after flying into the doors of my high school. I knew how she felt. I was like a zombie back then, my body filled with what my mind wouldn’t accept – grief, anger, and loneliness. It drained me. I shed weight and light until I was a shadow.
I picked up the bird and moved it toward a tree, so at least she could die in peace. She flew out of my hands, a shock of life. I clung to that moment through the rest of high school and well into college. I used it as evidence that God was working in my life as I sunk deeper and deeper into my faith. I didn’t know that was death, too. To fit into Christianity, I was bleeding my true self away, wearing the mask of a freed, spirit-filled believer. I thought this was flying, but I had just traded one death for another.
The second bird was still fighting. Washing on the beach shore, she was battered by the waves and trying not to drown. I knew how she felt. Years after high school, I was still fighting, too. I fought the grief of my past and persistent doubts about everything I believed. I felt everything but compassion for myself. Anxiety electrified me, even though most days, I trained myself to ignore just how deep it went.
I picked up the bird and moved it far up the shore. There was no resurrection this time, no eruption of flight. I’m sure she died there, but at least I gave her a quiet place where she didn’t need to fight. I realize now that that’s all I ever needed. I didn’t need prayers or church or the Bible. I didn’t need promises of healing or strange hands on me casting out demons. They never let me rest.
I thought freedom could only be found in flight, but maybe, it’s just a quiet place where I can let go.