Robin, photo by Trace Meek

Parable of the Trapped Robin

Yesterday afternoon, a robin managed to get itself stuck inside my old barn. Most likely it entered through one of the gaps between the weathered boards, or one of the small holes in the roof. I watched from my home office as the bird flitted around inside the barn, chirping anxiously and repeatedly flying into a window, trying to get outside.

After a while, I realized that the robin was probably not going to find an exit without a little help, so I went out and opened one of the barn’s large sliding doors, to provide a clear path to freedom. I even offered some sunflower seeds to try to lure the bird toward the open door. But the robin would not leave the window. It its mind, the window offered the only way back to wild freedom. It obviously did not understand the impermeability of glass.

I figured it would be just a matter of time before the bird discovered that there was a wide-open door nearby, so I returned to my chores, and my evening. But first thing this morning, the robin was at it again, frantically chirping and hurling itself against the window. 

At this point, I decided to act. I entered the barn, grabbed a ladder, and climbed up to the loft near the window, expecting that the robin would fly away from me, toward the open door. But despite my looming proximity, the bird would not leave the vicinity of the window. It persisted in attempting the impossible path.

I grabbed a piece of burlap that I found on the floor of the barn loft and approached the robin slowly, uttering sweet-nothings, hoping to soothe and reassure the creature. To my surprise, the bird did not flee. It turned its attention to me and calmed down for a moment, acquiescing to my care. I was able to gently swaddle the bird in burlap, cradle it in my hand, and climb back down the ladder. 

Outside the barn, I gently unwrapped the burlap, and within a few stunned seconds the robin flew to its freedom, landing on rooftops, and chirping ecstatically. Within minutes the bird had reconnected with its partner, and the two frolicked around the yard, contentedly doing bird-like things. I smiled, hoping that I’d done a good deed.

There must be some sort of lesson in this story, for us humans to consider. Maybe it’s this: sometimes we become so focused on what turns out to be an intractably blocked path (in our lives or our careers, for example), that we blind ourselves to all the open doors and opportunities that might exist just beyond the realm of our awareness. When we feel stuck, what if we were to broaden our perspectives and look for alternative paths? Might we experience less resistance along the Road of Life? Might we more reliably find our bliss?