We watched them awhile every day, and I spoke to them often enough that they began to recognize my voice and cried when I left. Within a few weeks their white down was gone and they were almost, but not quite ready to fly.
One afternoon I was sitting by the window when lightning struck so close I nearly came up out of the chair. A storm soon followed, and I weathered it with a crossword puzzle and a magnifying glass.
After supper Keith and I went on our regular evening stroll around the place, stopping first by the pine to check on the babies, more like teenagers by then. “Oh no,” he said, and after a few more steps I saw it too—a streak of white all the way down the pine. It was the nest tree that had been struck. He put the binoculars to his eyes and said he saw no movement in the nest at all. Then, as he was making his way around the tree to try to catch it from all angles, he came upon them. Both babies had been thrown from the nest to the ground. One was dead, a mangled, broken mass of feathers. The smaller of the two was standing about eight feet away, soaking wet and pitiful looking. Mama perched on a branch across the fence watching. There was no way she could carry a baby this big in her talons back to the nest to feed and tend.
What to do? First, we had to get it up off the ground before Magdi and Chloe saw it. Keith picked up the scared baby, a double handful of feathers with a head as big as my fist. It didn’t struggle at all, shell-shocked, I suppose, so we talked to it soothingly as we carried it to the back of the truck and put him inside the camper top. Then, after batting around a few ideas, Keith found an old milk crate, filled it with leaves and moss, and climbed the oak tree nearest the pine that had low enough branches for him to get up into after the ladder steps ran out. He nailed it as high as he could reach.
Meanwhile I went looking for bird food, raw meat in this case, and the only thing I had that was not frozen solid was cubed steak I had bought on sale that morning—still, it was expensive bird food. I put it in the microwave just long enough to get the chill off, but not to cook it. When I dropped a small chunk in the truck by the bird, all he did was look at it for a few seconds. Then his eyes turned to me and never left me, so I kept on talking to him to try to keep him calm.
Keith managed to get up the ladder with him somehow, as I stood on the bottom rung to keep it steady for his one-handed grip. He set the big baby in the box and then tried hand-feeding it. That did it! The hawk knew it was food after that (and nearly had human finger as dessert), so we put more in the homemade nest. We heard Mama again, as she flew back around the old pine, calling for her baby, so we left as quickly as possible.
Now it was time to wait. Would she find him and accept him and feed him again, or had we sealed his fate by handling him? There was no way to know. We had done our best to save him and the rest was up to him and his mother.
The next morning, we stepped outside early and looked toward the tree. Mama must have heard us, for she flew then, but we were overjoyed to see that she had flown from the make-shift nest in the oak tree where she had indeed found her baby. Three days later he flew on his own.
We wonder sometimes how much that bird understood what had happened to it Why did it have to be his tree that was struck and his brother or sister who was killed? Why did he wind up in a plastic box instead of his cozy, parent-built nest? This is not the way it is supposed to be with hawks!
And we wonder the same things when our life plans are suddenly altered through circumstances we had never even considered—accident, illness, career changes, death of a spouse at a young age. This is not the way we had planned it, this is not what we had wanted for our lives.
I had a dear friend who lived here for several years. This is not where she expected to be, but her husband was killed in a work-related accident, and her only child died suddenly and unexpectedly at a young age. None of this was what she had planned, yet through it all she maintained a level of faith I have yet to reach, and an attitude I want to imitate for the rest of my life.
“I don’t understand why God put me here,” she once said.
“Charlotte,” I told her, “He put you here for me.” I can name half a dozen others who feel the same way. Every day, remembering her example helps me cope with the changes that have come my way in the past five years.
Don’t ever think that because your plans went awry that you have been forsaken by God. It could very well be that He put you where He did for a reason you may never truly understand, just like that hawk was undoubtedly mystified by what happened to him. But you have the ability to accept your circumstances and make the most of them. God puts you where He wants you for a reason, and giving up hope and ceasing to serve is not the solution.
Trust God. Keep serving your neighbors in any way you can, even if it is just to smile and set an example of endurance and peace. Refuse to make excuses for yourself, as Satan would have you do. So your plans were changed? They should not have been that important to you anyway—Christians have far better plans for the future than anything anyone can think up in this life, in this place. Believe it.
Out of my distress I called upon Jehovah: Jehovah answered me and set me in a large place. Jehovah is on my side; I will not fear: What can man do unto me? Psalm 118:5,6.
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