A terrified crow with broken wing was in the water frantically splashing about in a futile effort to take flight.
My Dad and I were walking along the shore of a lake with Lou Levy, a friend of my fathers, and Mr. Levy’s male black Labrador retriever when we saw the injured bird.
My memory says the bird was fifty yards off shore, but I am aware that everything looks bigger and farther and higher to the mind of a child than it does to the mind of an adult.
Mr. Levy told his dog to fetch the bird. Mr. Levy said his dog would bring the crow back to shore unharmed. Cutting a gentle wake, the black lab swam towards the crow. Terrified, the crow continued to splash frantically.
The dog reached the crow and tried to get it into its mouth to bring it to safety. The crow lashed out. Again, the dog tried. Again, the crow lashed out. This happened two or three more times. Finally, the dog realized this was not going to work. He then did the most remarkable thing. He swam to the far side of the crow and began to swim in circles. He didn’t swim in circles around the crow. He swam in circle on the side of the crow opposite the shoreline. By doing so he created a small wave that slowly pushed the crow towards the shore. Soon Mr. Levy and my father rescued the bird and took him to the vet.
It seems to me the crow’s behavior is common in people. Sometimes, when we are hurt, in tough shape, in denial about something, injured in some way, we lash out at those that try to reach out to us. We wound those that care most without meaning to and, in many instances, without even realizing it. No doubt, the crow honestly thought the dog meant it harm. Nevertheless, the crow was wrong. All the dog wanted to do was help it to safety.
I think most of us have been on each side of this experience. We’ve been the wounded and the one doing the wounding. We’re only human after all. When we reach out to someone we care about, even for just a friendly telephone conversation, and get wounded for our efforts, it is likely that the person, like the crow, honestly thinks we mean them harm, even though we don’t.
Perhaps we would be wise to take a lesson from the crow. Maintain enough distance for our own safety, yet do what we can, gently and lovingly, to help the person we care about reach the shore safely and, like the black lab, ask for nothing in return.