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Feathery rescue

If you want to know all about how God is looking after the sparrows, I can tell you. I found out yesterday when I asked my ten-year-old neighbor, Lisa of the hopscotch games and the hope-blue eyes, please to hop down the sidewalk and mail a letter for me.

Here's what happened.

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Just as she was dropping my letter down the chute, pretending it contained so many big secrets that all the spies in the world were trying to get their hands on it, suddenly a fierce gust of wind blew a flight of sparrows apart and sent one little dazed sparrow whirling right down the chute along with my letter.A sparrow getting mailed by the wind!

Forgetting about spies, Lisa fetched me, and we rushed back to the box.

For a few moments all we could do was just stand there, our minds awhirl with the fluky wonder of it all. Where was it meant to go, this feathered letter? What hands would open it? What eyes would read its message? Did it have enough postage?Was it marked "Please hand cancel"? Would it, God forbid, get crushed in the hurly-burly of the mail?

These questions required deep pondering, but there was no time. Louder and louder grew the fluttering of wings against the dark sides of this box of human hopes and dreams. And louder and louder the little chirps asked why God, if His eye was truly on the sparrow, wasn't interceding.

Suddenly I realized that, through us, interceding was precisely what He was about to do. Seeing at once the impossibility of coaxing the sparrow out of the box, and the urgent need of calming it down, we dashed like track stars to the market and bought a pound of birdseed. Then we dashed back and emptied the whole pound down the chute into the box, careful to do it slowly so as not to bury the little fellow alive.

"Hold on, sparrow heart," I said. "I promise that you won't end up in Anchorage, Alaska, in the deaded of winter! You can count on us!"

Little by little, the plaintive fluttering and chriping let up. Soon, to our joy, all we could hear was the rapid, papery pecking of birdseed.

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Satisfied that danger to life and wing was past, we dashed forth again, this time to the post office. There we explained to the venerable postmaster the nature of the whole extraordinary child-event and asked him to please send someone out to free the sparrow. Then we dashed back to the box and waited for help to arrive.

A half hour of papery pecking later, a man came in a mail truck. He looked at us with the annoyance of one who felt summoned from higher to lower duties, then, grumbling like a jailor, opened the box. Looking slightly fatter, out form its dark captivity flew the sparrow, bounding and dodging up and away from the reach of the wind.

"Hey," the man shouted, "what's this in the box here, birdseed?"

Lisa nodded proudly, the happiness in her eyes soaring with the innocent cause of it all.

"Godspeed, sparrow heart!" she cried.

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