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Every bird owner has a decision to make: Shall this bird have her wings clipped or shall she be flighted? It’s not an easy decision. A flighted bird in a room with a ceiling fan is in grave danger. A flighted bird can land on a hot stovetop or in swirling toilet bowls. They can slip out slow-closing screen doors in minutes.

So that’s why Lady’s (Sister Joan’s parrot) wings are clipped. She has done all of it, including the toilet bowl.

The temptation is to feel sorry for the bird who cannot fly—who lives rooted in place, totally cut off from the rest of civilization, denied her natural mobility. Scandalous.

Well, not here. Flight wings or no flight wings, Lady is a traveler….Trust me, this is a bird on the move….She’s always active. She never stops moving. She wastes not a minute of life. If anything, she seems starved for more and more and more of it. I have learned a great deal from Lady. In fact, she teaches us all to expect the unexpected in life.

Only curiosity can lead us where we have never been. It is the insatiable desire to know what it is not necessary to know—but which, once discovered, changes the way we look at the rest of life.

Exploring where we have never been before, doing what we have never done before—doing things that are seldom done by anyone—constitutes an adventure of the soul.

Like flighted birds with clipped wings, we must refuse to allow “clipped wings” to hold us back. No, we cannot do everything in life—but we can do what we have never done before. We can become something we never thought we were. We can take personal responsibility for becoming alive intellectually, for experiencing the world rather than simply reading about it. We can challenge ourselves, push ourselves to the fullness of our physical powers, in order to discover what being human is really all about.

Then we may discover that life itself is the adventure that it is meant to be.
Only when we ourselves test every boundary, explore every question, reach for every experience within our grasp, can we possibly hope to spark the fire in our souls that will light our way through those moments in life that are dark and dull.
Then we, too, can let our souls fly free, whether we can fly or not. Then we shall have refused to allow limitations to become the definition of what we mean when we say to ourselves, Am I alive—or not?

—from Two Dogs and a Parrot: What Our Animal Friends Can Teach Us About Life by Joan Chittister (BlueBridge)

Categories Reflections