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Finding Truth Through the Journey of a Flicker
Dr. Rosie Kuhn

A few days ago, my friend Ron, who shares my property with me, found a flicker on the ground with a broken wing (flickers are members of the woodpecker family). Ron’s dog, Isabella, a Brittany spaniel, was attempting to catch it, but to no avail. The bird continually escaped the dog’s instincts to capture the bird in her mouth. The bird got itself under the trailer where Isabella couldn’t go.

The next day, Ron found the bird out in the open and it appeared to be dead. As Ron went to pick it up, and the bird once again freed itself and found safety behind the wood pile. It was a mystery how this bird had survived through the day and night with dogs, cats, hawks and owls in close proximity.

Yesterday as I was walking with my dog, Gracie, about four hundred feet down the road from Ron’s, I spied on the ground an unusual site. Yes, it was the flicker. Aware of our presence, it took refuge, concealing itself among the rocks, becoming almost completely invisible. Where the heck was this little guy going? Aside from a broken wing this bird seemed strong and clear of its trajectory, going where it’s meant to go. On our way back, the Flicker again found safety among the brambles and moss on the slope of the driveway.

Later that afternoon, while playing ball with Gracie, I spied this little guy again. This time he has about a hundred feet up from where I’d last seen him. In order to get to this new location, though, he had to climb an almost vertical incline. I was shocked to see him. He seemed fine to me, except that he had this broken wing. He didn’t seem to allow his disability to interfere with getting to where he was going. I kept wondering, as I was projecting all my human thinking, why did he bother to go anywhere, especially up the mountain? I had no idea. But I did put a small dish of water close to where he was being, just in case he was thirsty. I wondered how he would fare through the night and knew that even as food for whatever critter found and ate him, he’d found his home.

For those who are unfamiliar with my property, I have ten acres of land perched on the side of Turtleback Mountain on beautiful Orcas Island. It is a beautiful slope with trees, moss and a lot of rock. There’s very few flat areas and literally no smooth surfaces, except for the floors in the yurt and the trailer. This little bird was walking and every stone under his little feet put him off balance. Wherever he was going, every step was a challenge. I thought about trying to capture him, but Gracie would be a constant threat to the bird. And, what was I going to do with it in a cage? I figured it was doing what it needed to do; who was I to intercede?

This morning after clients and breakfast, Gracie and I headed out for our walk. Not ten feet from the trailer was our little friend the Flicker. Again he had ascended up the mountain another two hundred feet or so. My heart went out to him. I felt inside myself my own struggle to continue to climb further up the rocky mountain of my life even though it seems like the obstacles are insurmountable.

Why did he hobble down the road the day before, only to climb up the steepest slope to get to where I found him this morning? Why didn’t he just walk up the driveway from Ron’s, which would have offered him the easiest route possible? And now, here he was again, continuing his ascent up the mountain, for who knows why.

As I continue along the path, following the trajectory of my own calling, I often feel as if my wings are broken. I feel crippled and handicapped and continually stumble and lose my balance on the smallest of challenges. I haven’t the courage to lay down my woes. Pondering this Flicker’s life, I realize that though his wing is broken he is not burdened by what has burdened me forever; thoughts and memories of unfilled dreams, or the belief that God let him down. He lives in the harmony and union of all that is, having no sense of the concept of being abandoned or rejected – all of those wounds I’ve carried for lifetimes. This Flicker lives in his essential nature, unburdened or handicapped by what we humans carry for lifetimes. I feel more sad for myself then this bird as he’s got it easy being in harmony with his being a Flicker. He carries no thinking, no logistics, no blame or shame.

I think about my own choice to take a road less traveled. I could have remained on the safe and secure path I started out on a long time ago. I could have stayed married to a man who would have provided for me all the security and accoutrements of a woman well kept. I could have continued to raise my children and lived a very comfortable and easy life. I was give the opportunities to choose differently, but like this Flicker I chose to allow myself to be guided by unseen forces, surrendering what was right, according to my culture but not right according to a knowing far greater than myself and those around me. My path has been rocky, and I haven’t always been courageous and noble – I carried the belief that I was suffering and struggling and that the journey was hard; I’ve complained and whined, often wishing for an easier path.

I now see how this little bird reflects my true nature, well, the true nature of all of us: to travel according to a divine sense of direction in which we can trust completely. Logic abandoned, we are free, allowing the journey to bring us fearlessly to the moment when we know we’ve arrived where we are meant to be.

Copyright.  Rosie Kuhn.  All rights reserved.

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