The other evening, my wife Pat went outside to add seeds to the squirrel-proof bird feeder and was alarmed to see a sparrow stuck in the lower caged section, with birds chirping around it. She walked into the TV room to ask for my help to free the sparrow. After sitting in front of the television for a few minutes procrastinating, I got up and went to the studio for a handful of tools and my gloves. I would do whatever was needed to free the bird. I stood in front of the feeder and, with a gloved hand, held the sparrow’s head and gently pushed the bird back through the narrow opening to free it. The sparrow immediately flew up and out of the cage and into a tree. I felt great.
The next morning at 4:15, while sipping my cup of coffee, I remembered playing in the backyard as a 13-year-old and picking up a stone to throw at a sparrow. To my surprise, I hit the little bird and was initially excited but, as I walked up to the dead bird, a deep sense of regret and sorrow came over me. With all my stone-throwing, I seldom hit my target, but this time, I killed a sparrow, and I remember feeling guilty as I buried the beautiful bird. While sitting in the quiet studio that morning so many years later, I remembered my childhood guilt and hope that freeing the sparrow the evening before would atone for killing a little bird more than 56 years ago.