When God gives you the bird…

A main trail through Lula Lake from this weekend. Taken with instagram

A few years ago I tore the shit out of my knee. I think a few ligaments were damaged. I won’t go into details on how it happened, but it was bad. So bad infact that one doctor told me I might never run again. I was devastated. As an active dancer and tennis player in college, I never imagined I’d have to go to intensive physical therapy twice a month and have surgery to try and repair the damage.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was on a hike with some friends up on Lookout Mountain. It is utterly beautiful up there. People close to me know that when I die, I want to be cremated and strewn about up at Lula Lake. Spending time outdoors exploring is incredibly imporant to me. Anyway, I go and sit by the water, because I have to rest every so often due to my knee. While I’m relaxing and dipping my sore limb into the cold water, I start meditating. My friends were exploring the Falls above me, and it was the perfect time to clear my mind. It’s hard to describe just how wonderfully peaceful it was that day. If my readers ever get the chance, check out Lula Lake Land Trust. It’s only open the first and last Saturday of every month, but it’s so worth it.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, an eagle came into view. It’s not often that one sees these guys, even in the middle of a forest. Even more surprisingly, it didn’t seem to be afraid of me. It landed on a branch no more than 10 feet away.

Around this time, my friends noticed and stood in stunned silence, watching this big bird come closer and closer to me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It finally came close enough so I could see the exact shade of gold its eyes were, and climbed up on my bad knee with its wings outstretched for balance. It’s talons didn’t hurt me. It just kind of sat there and looked at me, tame as a housecat. I was dumbstruck. I sat there with the eagle for probably 2 or 3 minutes. When my friends got bold and started coming closer to us, it decided to fly away.

I didn’t realize until later on that my knee had stopped hurting. I think it was a friend who pointed out that I was able to keep up with their jogging and not have to ask for a breather. I chalked it up to adrenaline from a fucking eagle landing on me, but a couple of my friends had a different idea. It was a sign from God. God had sent the Eagle to heal my knee. I laughed, but they were persistent. This was too much of a coincidence to be merely chance. I’ll admit, what had happened had seemed pretty surreal. Extraordinary, even. But it bothered me that an incidident that was really cool on its own suddenly had taken on a new dimension.

A friendly game of tug of war ensued. They couldn’t understand how I couldn’t see the eagle coming to me as a supernatural sign. I believe the phrase “doubting Thomas” was used.  From my point of view, being out in the middle of one of the most beautiful parts of the state and witnessing the “miracles” of flora, fauna and life on this marvelous little planet filled my heart with enough wonder, it is completely unnecessary to attribute it to a Divine intercessor. It also kind of nagged at my mind that if there were a God, why wouldn’t He use his miraculous birds to send messages of hope and healing to people who really needed it? War torn countries or depressed people on the verge of suicide? It would be a mockery of real human adversity to send a healing Eagle to me, an upper middle class member of a first-world society with a stiff knee. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Regardless of if you agree with me or you don’t, I found out a little while later from a newspaper article that several rare birds had accidentally escaped from the Nature Center, which isn’t more than a couple of miles away from Lula Lake. One of them happened to be an eagle. The caretaker who feeds her daily has a similar body type and hair color to me. I wonder if God knew about this.

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2 responses to “When God gives you the bird…

  1. Great story! Enjoyed it.

    At Uni two friends and I used to hike incessantly. We went everywhere within reach. Outdoors was right. Every chance we’d get up into the mountains, loose map it, find somewhere to sleep, eat, drink, smoke, skywatch, loose map it again at sunrise. One day up past Mt. Ginini with winter closing in a hell of a mist crept up. This was Harry potter type mist. Couldn’t see much past perhaps 20/30 meters ahead as we moved up hill through snow gums. I was loving just the scene, then through the grey came a shrieking, bone-chilling screech. It was impossible to place where it was coming from. It was all around. It was everywhere. We all froze and our heads fought to be in three places at once trying to find the source of the sound… then out of the soup came a flock of black cockatoos. This is Australia, so if you don’t know they’re as big as your N. American eagle and they were literally only a few meters above us, perhaps ten, and noisy as all fuck. I’d never seen or heard anything like it before. Black cockatoos are almost legendary in Australia. They ARE legendary in Aboriginal Dreaming, and the temptation to think something magical happened was huge.

    I liked your story. I really liked your rational explanation.

    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”
    -Douglas Adams

    • wow, thanks so much for the comment! Your story is pretty awesome. It’ amazing what people will try to ascribe to the divine instead of looking to reason and logic for explanations.

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