August 17, 2015: How It Will Turn Out

~by Louis Templeman

We are born with the virtue of hope. It is probably hard wired into us in some genetic fashion. It is the breath of fresh air we need to keep us from giving up on a long relentless road. It is what we have in lieu of a mile marker that lets us know we are making progress. Hope is not the belief that things will turn out the way we would want or the way we pray. Hope indicates things will turn out in some reasonable manner and perspective will be gained so we may find peace with our past and our present.

It is late March and the tiny brilliant gold finches have returned to the bird feeder just outside my window. When goldfinches dine in they bring all the nephews and nieces, in-laws, babies and grandparents. They do not dine alone or do “take-out” like titmice and chickadees. I usually have 15 to 20 when they are passing through North Florida. Rarely do I see a single goldfinch or even just 2 or 3. They come all at once and leave all at once, usually in mid to late spring. I’ll miss them but it will be easier on the budget. My feeder must hold a half-gallon of black oil sunflower seed. While they are here I have to refill it every day.

I spied a single finch on the bird bath. Standing on the edge he had to lean his whole body forwards so his beak could dip into the water which lay just below his tiny talons. A fussy group of feeders were feasting and fussing by the sunflower and thistle seed stations. None of them saw Jet, the stalking, stretching, sleuthing sleek black cat as he slid up under the bird bath. The feeders were distracted in a noisy dinner debate. The thirsty one was enjoying the water. Jet, once under the concrete basin jolted upwards and twisted in flight so that eyes and claws were on target. Before he returned to the grass he scooped the bird up like a basketball player doing an acrobatic lay-up and shoved it in his mouth and then smoothly landed on all four paws.

This is not the first time I’ve moved to save a bird from Jet’s clutches. I jumped up from my window seat at the kitchen table and trotted quickly to the back door. I grabbed the key hanging on a cupboard door, above my dryer, and poked and rattled the key in the deadbolt until the door opened. Once outside I found Jet. He’d not moved. Fat boy seemed stunned and wondering why he had a live bird in his mouth. He certainly wasn’t hungry.

I walked slowly toward him making clucking noises with my tongue. Affectionate to a fault Jet allowed me to bend down and stroke him. Softly I shifted my hands to his shoulders and gently pulled him toward me. In the confusion he dropped the feathered feast but would have retrieved it with his ready claws if I’d not been holding him. In a yellow streak the gold finch sailed in a straight line over the fence and into a camphor tree across the street.

The very next day I repeated the action, only this time I saved a cardinal. However, I did it a little differently. Yesterday in my rush I nearly stumbled. Nothing under my feet except the carpet, only now with Parkinson’s I do not always pick up my feet when I walk. The soles of my feet strike the surface in mid-step. I’ve not stumbled yet but I can see how it could easily happen.

So in my efforts to save the red bird I walked deliberately, consciously lifting my feet properly and certainly not in a hurry. Fortunately, the cardinal fared as well as the goldfinch.

It is so strange to experience the incremental loss of movement control. My uncle is nine years older than I and he could ride his motorcycle cross country – in a leisurely way, of course – but he’d certainly make the round trip. I try to stay hopeful in my attitude and I plan to participate happily and completely in physical therapy which starts soon.

Things are not happening for me as I wished. But I believe in the God who makes all things work together for the good for those who love him and take his call to salvation seriously. Answers may not be easy to find and the paths may feel dark at times but eventually – even if that means waiting until he gives me an eternal perspective – it will all make sense.

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