Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Tale of the Finch

After I finished my evening sun gazing practice
I noticed a finch crouching in the middle of the street.
Something was obviously wrong, so I went out to the street, expecting the bird to fly away as I approached.

It did not.

I knelt beside it. Its bright little black eyes looking up at me as it tilted its head.
I reached for it. Surely it would fly away now, I thought.

Again, it did not.

I picked it up, gently moving the wings and inspecting its little underbelly. It seemed uninjured. However, I felt uncomfortable leaving it outside, especially if it was unable to fly.

So I brought it into the house. My first impulse was to rescue the finch, of course, perhaps call the game warden in the morning and have her come and get it. But another impulse fired: Wouldn’t it be better, I reasoned, to find a cage for it, some seeds and water and fresh bedding and let it live it’s life in unobstructed peace in the solace of my office, where the cats and dogs would be forbidden to enter?

But then it occurred to me that the little finch would be brutally unhappy living in a cage in my office. It is, after all, an outdoor creature and despite my heartfelt desire to help the little being it would suffer tremendously inside my office.

Besides, my husband would near none of it, stating quite firmly that wild birds carry diseases.

And of course, he’s quite correct.

So, I took the finch outside.

I reached inside my coat pocket to take it out. But it didn’t want to leave. He grasped firmly onto my forefinger and refused to turn loose.

I had to laugh. Here I was grasping at the idea of putting the finch in a cage, and the finch was grasping at the idea of staying tucked safely inside my coat pocket!

“We both have to let go,” I said as I removed the finch from my pocket. I gently put my hand onto the table, expecting the bird to take instant flight.

It did not.

It remained firmly clasped onto my forefinger.

“You can’t stay with me,” I said. “It’s time you went home.”
And so I gently removed the delicate little feet from my finger, set the finch on the table and went back into the house.

I washed my hands, thinking, wondering, and finally worrying about what would happen to the finch once it was out of the safety of my coat pocket.

Would the cooper hawks that roost in the great pine beside the house snatch it away?
Would the feral cats get to it?

I needed to see what was going on. To satisfy my curiosity, I told myself, if nothing else.

I went to the bedroom window where I had a clear view of the patio table. The finch was still there. I asked the Buddha of Compassion to protect the little creature, again, hoping it would fly away, yet a part of my wished it would not.

It was still sitting on the table.

My husband took the dog out for a walk, while I went to my altar and pondered. Somehow the finch and I hadn’t quite let go of each other. The finch’s only motive as far as I was concerned was the warmth it felt while being inside my pocket; while my motive, although altruistic at first, cast a more sinister shadow. Just exactly what was my motivation for wanting to keep the finch? It was just one bird, after all. What about all the other species that live near (or sometimes in the attic) of my house? Should I not try to rescue them all as well? Weren’t they too, prey to predators and the cold and wind?

I realized then that my desire to rescue the finch had very little to do with wanting to keep it safe. Instead, it had everything to do with possessing. There is something disturbingly primal about owning something wild, and I often scoffed at people who gave in to that impulse, not only because it was cruel to the wild things, but dangerous to the owner. And yet, here I was wanting to do the same thing. I was even contemplating borrowing a cage and keeping it in my office.

There was no doubt about it. I had to let go.

So I did a silent Concise Three Cauldron’s practice. I focused on the concepts of love and letting go. Soon, I was able to do exactly that.

I felt much better about the entire thing. I went back to the bedroom to check on the finch, considering giving it some sunflower seeds as a parting gift, but my husband stopped me.

“It flew away while Tsuki and I were outside,” he said. “And you might want to get some cleaner for the table; your little friend left you a going away present.”

And of course, I had to laugh.
There is love. There is letting go.
And sometimes, letting go is the most important thing of all.

Until Next Week
May you and yours be healthy and happy.
Om mani padme hum
March 4, 2010

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