An Unlikely Angel
Originally uploaded by Points North.
A week and a half ago, my body rose up and smacked me into the ER. It was frightening, unpleasant, and, after years and years of rehab and recovery, too many setbacks and climbing back on the horse, so to speak, this was the final straw. How many setbacks must I endure? How many times of worsening health must I get through just to have a hint of a normal life? Would I ever recover from the car crash? I lost all my desire to photograph -- and me with a new camera! -- to write, to blog, to do anything but read an Agatha Christie or listen indifferently to Bill Carroll rant on the radio. What was the point, I felt, since I would only have another setback, I had no energy again, and this one really felt like I'd gone all the way back to step one, this after over a year of unrelenting and exhausting hard work to regain at least some of my old abilities and skills. I knew one thing: I could no longer continue as I had before. The stress-reaction I had, by its weirdness and unknowability, scared the hell out of me, and I'm now on beta blockers to settle me down and make me feel better. (One interesting side effect of those is for the first time since the crash I can stand still without feeling like my legs are going to give way.) I had some thinking to do...when I could.
Then this past week-end, a strange thing happened. I was sitting at the table, mindless, when I saw two cardinals flit by. I went to the window to see where they were. They were on the tree, hopping and bopping about. First this branch, then that, first closer then farther. Slowly I started thinking, not just watching. Too bad my camera, my new one, is nowhere near me, I thought. They'll be gone by the time I get it, I thought, so I didn't move. But they didn't go, no matter how much I shifted from foot to foot behind the glass, something that always spooked them before. Finally they flew away. I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my tea.
They flew by again. I got up and looked out, and there they were on the tree again. This might've happened twice. The second time around, my thoughts became action, and I fetched my camera and its dead battery. Well, they'll definitely be gone by the time this battery has any charge in it, I thought, but if they're still here after 15 minutes of the battery in the charger, I'll give it a try. They stayed. I lost interest and drank some more tea.
They flew to a closer branch and started playing with each other in the air, catching my attention. I popped the battery into the camera, one bar of charge, I saw. Well, I'll give it a try, I thought, and crept up to the window and started shooting, walking closer and closer to the glass. The two cardinals hopped and turned, faced me directly, turned their tails up at me, flew from one branch to another, but mostly they showed off their profiles until I got a good shot (though I didn't know it yet) against the suddenly blue sky. And then they left. And didn't return.
In all my years in Toronto, I've never seen cardinals stick around in the open for more than a minute, and certainly they vamoose as soon as they see the slightest bit of movement behind the window pane. These two hung around for about an hour until I had photographed them and, in the process, had restored my desire to take pictures and write stuff. They're not what I imagine agents of God to look like. But they did for me what the angel did for Elijah when he lay down under a tree wanting to die (1 Kings 19).