Tuesday, January 6, 2009

lessons from a sparrow

it was a beautiful spring day, march of 2005. i was on campus at the university i attended. i had been battling a bout of depression, had been seeing a therapist on campus (that i didn't really like) and was struggling.

it was during class time and i was basically alone, in an area between buildings on the end of campus that not many students roam down. i threw down my backpack on the grass, layed down with my back toward the sidewalk and closed my eyes. and i prayed.

i prayed for strength, for help, for so much help, because i just couldn't do it by myself any more. i was ready to give up. i've been ready to give up, or given up, so many times in my life. i knew i was on the verge of total meltdown and needed as much help as i could get.

as i was laying there, silent tears streaming down my face, i heard a bird chirping pretty close to me. i looked up. about four feet from where i was laying was a pine tree, about six feet tall. there was a tiny little sparrow under it. the sparrow had found an acorn laying in the grass, from the large oak trees just beyond a fence. the sparrow picked up the acorn, which was much too large for his beak, and hopped up the tree, from one tiny branch to the next. no more than two or thee hops later, and the sparrow lost the grip on the acorn and flew back down to the ground to start again.

i watched this bird try to carry the acorn up the tree for half of an hour. over and over again he would drop the acorn and start over. the whole time chirping and trying again. he never paused, he never gave up. sometimes he would make a little more progress, but never farther than a foot up the tree.

at first i watched him and thought, "what a dumb bird! that nut is obviously too big for him. why doesn't he just give up and find a smaller one?" but after about fifteen minutes, i realized this was my answer. this was the answer to my prayer for strength.

half an hour watching this beautiful little bird try his hardest to get his prized nut up the pine tree. half an hour of watching the sparrow try, and try, and work, and work, and never give up. no hesitation, no outward show of frustration. just perseverance.

i realized that my depression was like that nut that was too big for the sparrow to carry up the tree. i was struggling, just as he was. but unlike the sparrow, i was ready to give up and run away. i was ready to sit on the ground and cry about my problems instead of continuing to fight.

i have reached that point again in my life. the point where i just want to sit down and cry. i want to hide in my closet, crawl in my bed under the blankets, and run away from everything. but i won't. i refuse to. i know that the weeks ahead of me will be full of challenges i have never faced before. they will be full of tears, and struggles, and i will want to sit and cry. i will want to hide. but i won't. i won't. because i am going to be like that silly little bird: no matter how big, how insurmountable the task seems, i will not hesitate. i will not stop working at it, hopping one tiny little branch to the next all the way up the 15 foot tree i have ahead of me. when i fall, and i will, i won't give up no matter how much i want to. i will pick that acorn up in my too-small beak and i will just keep on moving forward.

and i will never forget that sparrow. the sparrow who, after half an hour when i left, was still trying to get the acorn up the tree.


Kaylynn said...

I am sure you can do, and unlike the sparrow, you aren't doing it alone. Thanks for the beautiful story and insight!

JAG said...

Hey. Let's hang out. :)

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Love this post, you're such an amazing writer. Thanks for the reminder...I've gotta go pick up my acorn again now. ;)