She cradled it while its breath slowed. Tender hands. Tender heart.
We talk about death, because she says she is a little afraid.
All good things, all of us, will come to our end in this world, we agree. She looks up at me with those wet eyes full of questions.
"But then the bird's body turns to dirt and it helps make better soil so that more seeds can grow."
It seems that life and death are bound up, each thread tight in its right place, holding the other. Nearly indistinguishable, sewing the nest together.
And it all matters. This moment while the bird takes its final breath and lies limp in her tiny hands. The tenderness of her heart for another. The journey home. The mystery. Her sadness and her questions.
Some say life is just a cosmic accident. Others say whatever, whoever, Creator is, must be aloof, uncaring, considering all the suffering in the world.
But if the end of even a sparrow's life is met with love, if its resurrection is found in bits of earth and the hearts of children, if our worth is amplified by the caring of one for another, an offering of dignity and worth and purpose, then I say this power of love MUST be personal and real enough that every single one of our lives has meaning. All the glitter and all the dust and all the wandering hours in between.
The fall of every sparrow, known.
Each hair on my head, counted.
And, oh, dear one, there are worse things than dying. Losing our sense of compassion, losing the wonder and sadness of it all. That's a death far worse than the death of the body.
Death is never the end of the story.
* * * * *
If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: worms, fungi, microorganisms of all
kinds...Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long.
~ Wendell Berry