The domestic church is like an enclosed garden; a planned space
for the cultivation, nurture and care of the family.
The present is the only chance to build our family as a domestic church.
There's a half-dead bird on the driveway," my daughter came in to tell me.
"What do you mean half-dead?" I asked.
"It is on its back with its legs up but one leg is broken. Its eyes open and close," she described.
"What shall we do about it?" I asked her. (I was going to tell her that it happens that birds get hurt and it is nature's way and that we should let nature take its course.)
"Let's put it on the grass," she replied.
(At that moment, a choice was before me: either tell her there is not much we can do about it and leave it alone, or recognize her kindness for this bird which can die on the grass instead of on the concrete.) "Let's go."
Goes a Long Way
Kindness often is a small act for the person doing it but for the one receiving it, kindness makes all the difference. We can imagine the plight of the dying destitute in a gutter of Calcutta, not only physically suffering but alone and abandoned, already half-dead. The simple act of someone cleaning their wounds and being present to them changes their remaining days from misery to dignity. How easy it is to give a loving kiss to a spouse who had a rough day or an understanding hug to our child who is struggling, yet their burden is immeasurably lightened. How effortless it is to hold an elderly person's hand or offer a kind word to one who feels hopeless, yet to them it is like water on the parched land. Kindness is like the tiny seed that bursts forth in its recipient and unfolds life.
We have been recipients of kindness and we've experienced how it strengthens our hearts and re-ignites our hope. My mother used to say of those who did kind deeds to us, "That person is a child of God." She was a widow with six children and she knew when kindness was extended to us, acts that made a significant effect on the situations we were in. Small and simple acts became unexpected blessings for us that often were answers to her prayers.
It was not a pretty sight - the bird's leg was broken where it's ankle would be and its foot was waving like a flag on a pole in the autumn breeze. My daughter came out with a box and announced that she had looked online for instructions on what to do with an injured bird.
("Oh, no, this will just delay the inevitable," I thought. But I didn't have the heart to squelch the care she showed for this wounded creature.) We brought the bird in the box into the house and my daughter put water and seeds in the box like she read online. After a few hours, she went to look into the box and I was expecting her to find a lifeless bird. Instead, somehow the bird had turned over and had eaten and drank and was "sitting."
"Mom, it's still alive and it looks better. What should we do?" She was as surprised as I was.
"Take the box outside and let's see what it will do." I replied.
She put the box under a tree in the backyard. The unexpected blessing happened for the bird.