When Sparrows Fall
By Audrey Stallsmith
I recently found a dead sparrow lying in one of the plants under my basement grow light. That baffled me for a few minutes, as I had just brought those plants indoors for the winter a day or two before. Even someone as unobservant as I am surely couldn’t have missed a bird in one of them!
That bird looked peaceful and unharmed, as if it were sleeping, not as if it had been caught by one of our cats. I had to conclude that it probably had just come indoors to die. In one of my previous articles, I mentioned finding a live elderly sparrow perched in the plants upstairs. Obviously, our house has a few too many holes in it.
Perhaps, I concluded, aging affects bird brains as well as human ones. In that case, elderly sparrows might lose their natural fears and just look for a place that is warm. Maybe, because I provide the birds with board (food) during winter, they think I should be able to provide them a room too!
Since I occasionally work as a home health aide, I am familiar with the aberrations of aging brains. I’ve always hoped that I would die before I reached a state of dependence myself. Recently, however, I’ve come to think that maybe such dependence is the natural final stage to life.
At the beginning, we totally rely on our parents for care. As we grow, we mature away from that, so it is difficult to accept that we must become weak creatures again in old age. It seems like a regression, but is it really?
One of the greatest struggles for we Christians is to recognize and acknowledge our complete dependence on God. While giving lip service to it, we often fight to find some other source of security which will allow us to maintain at least an illusion of self-reliance.
Perhaps old age is meant to gradually help us lose our natural fear of dependence, so that our return to God will be less of a struggle. Perhaps it might allow us, as it allowed the sparrows, to fly into an unfamiliar world without fear.