When I was a little girl, I always wished I would find a baby bird, but never did. I did, however, once find a whole, smooth, blue robin’s egg. I was sure it had fallen from a nest and that there was a baby bird inside who needed to be rescued. I put the egg in box filled with cotton and I put a lamp over it to keep it warm. I turned it and watched it and prayed that the tiny life inside would be OK. Then, one day when I held it in my hands, the egg broke – and revealed only a yolky liquid inside. Nevertheless, I was still devastated. I felt that somehow, if I had just done a better job, the yolk would have become a baby bird and I could have saved it. I buried the egg in our back yard and cried over it, wishing I had known what to do.
I found a cracked egg last night when I was coming back from my walk. This egg was not from a robin and was evidence that its brief tenant had broken through to the wide world, but I remembered the incident with my childish attempt to save a life. I still remember how bad I felt. And I remembered, too, the friends of mine who found real baby birds, kept them warm and fed them worms and raw hamburger meat, but were rarely able to keep even those little chicks alive more than a few days.
It made me think of a question that has been bugging my brain lately, the whole “why do bad things happen to good people?” quandary. Think about it – there we were, children with the purest of hearts, working and hoping and believing we could help small creatures live. But it wasn’t to be.
Sometimes I worry that bad things happen to me because of something I’ve done or something I didn’t do. It’s preposterous, but in the middle of a crisis, I tend to feel like I’m getting punished because I have failed in being perfect. But thinking about baby birds and eggs and all that tonight gave me a sort of peace that sometimes things just are, no matter how well meaning or pure of heart you can be. We live in a broken world. And we were never asked to be perfect – we were asked to be loving and faithful. And I think these are the times, perhaps, when we can look deepest into ourselves and discover what is really to be found in there, in the dark, scary, unchartered caves of our souls. We know our own hearts – we know our own flaws – and we know, somehow, that in life crap just happens sometimes, and it’s the stronger person who can come out the other side knowing that they’ve nothing to be ashamed of. A stronger person still will come out having learned something to share with others.
I’m sorry bad things happen, sorry for all of us. But I’m not going to let it conquer me. And I’ll be there, for whoever needs me, to try my best not to let it conquer you.