Todd and I had noticed it on our evening walk, a perfect blue egg on the side walk. It must have fallen out of a nest in our neighbor’s crepe myrtle, dropped onto the soft ground and then rolled down the hill strewn with pine straw onto the sidewalk. “Maybe I should move it to the grass,” he said.
“But don’t people say not to touch it, that a mother bird will reject the egg if she can tell that humans have touched it?”
We weren’t sure, so we left it.
The next morning it was still there.
The egg had spent the night on the cold sidewalk. Could a baby bird inside withstand the chill?
A second after I took this picture, I put on my invisible superhero cape and decided to rescue it. One gentle tap would land it into the pine straw, right? Wouldn’t that be better than sitting on the concrete? I could use my phone as a putter, and TAP, the egg would sink into a makeshift nest.
I readied the grip on my phone. It’ll be like mini golf, I told myself. Just one little tap.
The second my phone made contact, the shell gave way, right where it sat. A clear liquid spilled out onto the concrete, along with a still baby bird, big eyed, curled up. It had been dead in its eggshell tomb, but now, thanks to me, it was a mess on the sidewalk.
Poor little bird.
Well, that didn’t go as planned.
I did the best I could with a sprig of pine straw as a broom to sweep it off to the side, as I struggled to keep Rosie from lapping it up (she’s a retriever, so what should I expect) and then went on my way.
My brain decided to entertain me on the walk by replaying other fiascos over the years in which I’ve flubbed up royally while trying to help.
Thanks a lot, brain.
There was the time at the children’s hospital when things went wrong.
My volunteer partner and I were going to make fairy houses with the children, and I was really excited. Who doesn’t love a fairy house? Usually we work in the playroom with a group of children, most often with patients but sometimes with siblings too, but this little patient was too sick to leave her room. We had to gown up to visit her bedside, which I had never done before, complete with donning masks over our mouths, glasses over our eyes, and gloves on our hands.
How do doctors and nurses deal with this, I wondered, care for the patient under all these layers? As I checked my bag of craft supplies, my own breath fogged up my glasses and sweat began to dribble down my back.
My volunteer partner was young and beautiful, and even covered by all the gown and masks, our patient immediately bonded with her as she explained who we were and what we were there to do. “You smell good,” the little girl said to my partner. “I like your earrings. They’re blue- that’s my favorite color.”
The self-centered child inside me wanted to pipe up and say, “Hey little girl! I love blue too! And I’m actually standing here too and I’d be happy to be your friend!” But I’m an adult, so I gave that self-centered child inside me a jab to the ribs. The goal was to be a bright spot in the little girl’s day, to help her have a fun, normal craft time, despite the fact that we were standing beside a hospital bed and that she had no hair and was hooked up to an IV, and we were covered in masks and gowns with hardly any skin showing.
I accepted my position as Craft Tech and handed the two of them items they needed: flowers for the fairy garden, silk butterflies to light on the fairy house roof, a battery candle for the inside of the house. And I manned the glue gun.
You need a trustworthy person to man a glue gun.
“I need some glue here,” our little patient said to my volunteer partner.
“Here, I can help you,” I said. “Where exactly would you like the glue?”
She pointed, and as I put the glue gun to the spot, she changed her mind a little, moving her finger just a tad.
“Right here,” she said, moving her finger just a tad again.
Then suddenly she said, “Oh,” and drew back her hand.
“Oh no, sweetie, did the glue gun touch you?” I asked, horrified.
The little girl looked up at me, tears welling in her eyes.
“Oh sweetheart, I’d never want to hurt you,” I said. “I’m so sorry that happened!”
“We’re so sorry, honey” my partner said, patting her back, furrowing her pretty eyebrows at me.
“I’m okay,” she said to my partner, and inched away from me on the bed.
“I think I’ll unplug this glue gun,” I said.
Of everything that child had been through, and I added ONE MORE THING.
I still ache to think about it.
As I rounded the corner back onto my street back in real time, back to my egg crushing failure of a morning, Rosie licked my hand, and my brain responded by trying to give me something nice to focus on.
Thanks a lot, brain.
I was volunteering again, this time years ago when we lived in France. After three and a half years of living in Clermont-Ferrand, the teachers at my children’s school finally realized that I was not going to quit asking if I could chaperone field trips and let me walk downtown with my son Ben and his fourth grade class to the art museum.
At one point, all the kids were sitting at the middle of a huge room as Madame Chomette, their teacher, stood in the center of the children, talking to them about the art surrounding them all. “Regardez ça,” she said, and stepped forward. A little girl yelped, and Madame Chomette immediately dropped to the floor, scooped up the child’s hand that she had mistakenly stepped on, and covered it with kisses. “Oh I’m so sorry, my dear! Children, be especially kind to Sylvie, today. Please forgive me, my sweet! It was completely my fault! I’m so sorry that I hurt you.”
Madame Chomette is the French flubber I want to be, someone who drops to the floor when it’s called for, doing her best to bathe the wronged in love. Someone who quickly and easily admits her fault, even when it was unintended. Someone who wants to make life easier for everyone around her.
Someone who lives the words of 1 Peter 4:8, that above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Even when others smell better or have cooler earrings or don’t seem to ever do dumb things.
Love wins. As usual.