It is a bright, early, warm June morning, looking out unto Mille Lacs Lake, one of the largest of the 10,000 beautiful lakes in Minnesota. Our family is at the Croiser cabin, and one bright, early morning, I got up and brewed our first pot of coffee. With a cup of coffee in my hand, I went down to sit on the dock to greet the morning sunrise. The rest of the family is still asleep after a late Friday night card game. Spending a weekend at the Croiser cabin for a family reunion was an annual summer event.
It is a warm, sunny, quiet beautiful morning, the fog is lifting as the sun is rising, creating a mist above the clear, still, blue waters. The water is like glass, and only the movement of my dangling feet or some other small creature will cause ripples to appear. There are many small minnows below near the dock. There is a spider busy on the neighbor’s dock spinning a web below the dock. How fragile the web appears and no doubt this is not its first creation. A web can be broken one day and the next day, the spider is back spinning a new web. Chief Joseph said, “We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” There are many little bugs darting busily about in the water and feeling very confident in this huge body of water and letting me know that they have a right to be here. To my right about 200 feet or so, a mother duck leads her babies around the rocky point. Did she hear my steps and see my presence on the shore as a threat?
Several docks down toward the east, a fisherman is preparing his boat, and I watch and listen as he heads out into the horizon to join some of the other boats that already deck the waters at various popular fishing spots. How many are out there to seriously try their skill at fishing, or are they out there for the same reason that I am: sitting on the dock, namely, to be with nature.
Suddenly, I hear a loud noise of screeching birds, and about 25 feet or so in the sky to my left, I see a bird being attacked by four or five other birds. The injured bird falls into water and finds its way to rest on the sandy shore. With my coffee mug in hand, I get up and go to sit on the sand by its side, protecting it of any further attacks. Its left wing is folded normally along its tiny body, but its right wing is spread out over the sand. Would trying to help fold the wing back in its right place make the injury worse? I could see no wound. The eyelids would very slowly open and close as if it as close to the end of its life. I gently petted its crown and its back.
“What happened to you up there in the sky?” I asked, “What could a beautiful bird like you do to deserve such an attack? How lucky I am to sit here with you in your last moments of life.”
I saw a bottle cap nearby, I filled it with lake water and held it to its bill, but it would not drink. It only responded by very slowly opening and closing its eyelids, as if to say, “Thank you.” I continued to stroke its soft feathers. All of a sudden, the bird pulled in its injured wing to its body, stood up on its tiny legs, life returned to the eyes, to the eyelids, and to the rest of the body. It fluttered its feathers, made a few hops, and off it flew into the sunrise, over the trees with my eyes glued to it until the tiny speck disappeared. WOW! What a grace moment!
Was I instrumental in bringing healing to this creature? Was God telling me that there was new life after my sabbatical? Is this the healing we could bring to our world if we truly believed that we have the power and that we are capable of bringing healing to our earth? I believe so.
Margaret Mandernach, OSB
Photo: A dock in Florida, taken by Sister Nancy Bauer