I wish that I could say I saved a life this morning.
How I was able to see a slightly less dark spot on the dark asphalt in the gloomy light that comes just before dawn, I have no idea. Perhaps it was the fact that it was twitching. Perhaps it was the fact that the crow that had been standing over it fluttered out of my way as I approached. But see it I did, and I couldn’t stop my heart from insisting on hitting the brake pedal and pulling over to the side of the road.
It wasn’t until I was standing over it that I could see it clearly; not a squirrel or other small creature like I had thought. It was a fledgling crow. It’s wing broken. It obviously had some internal injuries as well, and a broken leg. It was struggling bravely to make its way out of the road. The cars that kept roaring past clearly terrified it as it would give a feeble lurch every time one whooshed by.
A hard caw from not far away revealed an adult crow, probably the same one I had seen standing over it, which meant it was most likely a parent. They hadn’t been waiting to eat dying roadkill after all, but had been trying to help their baby.
I managed to scoop up the trembling youngster in both hands, and it regarded me with a pain bright eye, beak open, attempting to call out, though all that came out of its mouth was a sort of hissing sigh. I could feel the life draining out of it even as I held it and could feel the parent crow’s concern as clearly as if was that of another human mother regarding her injured child.
There was nothing I could do to save it. It was in pain and it was dying.
The only thing I could do was to move the fledgling to the tall grass on the far side of the busy road, telling the poor baby over and over again “I’m sorry sweetie, I’m so sorry” and then retreat, giving the parent a chance to say goodbye.
As I climbed back into my car and turned off the hazard lights, I saw the adult crow flutter over to the side of the road where I had put the young one, and I couldn’t help it, I burst into tears. At least the baby wouldn’t die alone.
No one wants to die alone. Not even a crow.
Perhaps if I had left it alone, left it where it was, the next car would have simply run it over altogether, putting it out of its misery in short order. But I couldn’t leave it, I just couldn’t.
You see, there is so much suffering in the world; too much fear and pain and suffering and injustice for one heart to handle. Far and away too much for one pair of hands to address. So often the pain and suffering of the world becomes so overwhelming that my heart can’t stand it and I have to turn off the news; stop doom scrolling and try not to let it tear my heart to shreds.
How do you stop the pain of a society so divided that it’s very heart and soul seem to be breaking?
How do you comfort a dying world?
How do you give hope to the hopeless?
When the enormity of the task becomes clear, so does the responsibility, and it is far, far too much for one individual to handle.
The only thing I can do, the only thing any of us can do, is to address the fear and pain, the suffering and injustice that is presented to us on a daily basis. Face it without flinching. Accept our role and do whatever we can, no matter if it is nothing more than putting a band aid on the skinned knee of a child, holding the hand of a loved one lost in the depths of dementia, offering a meal to a homeless person, listening to a friend who is attempting to work through a bad break up, or making a dying crow’s last minutes on earth as comfortable as possible.
For some of us, making a dying animal comfortable may be the worst thing that is ever put in our path. For others there are bigger decisions to be made, decisions that can impact whole families, communities, towns, states, countries, or even the world.
You and I may never be called on to make a world-changing decision, but the decisions that I do make can be made in love and with an eye to relieving whatever pain and suffering comes my way.
And perhaps, just perhaps, if each of us made the choice to relieve the fear and pain that are presented to us, no matter how small the matter seems, perhaps if we address whatever small sufferings and injustices are put in our path on a daily basis, perhaps then we could bring about the better world that our hearts long for. A world where everyone is cared for, no matter how insignificant they may appear to be in the grand scheme of things. A world where no one, not even a fledgling crow has to worry about dying alone.