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How a pigeon taught me to see the beauty in death


Roman_Overko | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 07/26/21

My feathered friend's visit was short, but left a lasting lesson.

Pidgey McPigeon landed on my balcony a week ago. He was accompanied by a friend who left him and flew off. (To be fair, Pidgey could have been a female, but I’m not an expert in our winged friends.)

Pidgey looked exhausted. I examined him from a distance, and he didn’t look injured. He was hovering around a little and actually flew into my room. I panicked a little. Although I really love birds, their unpredictable movements make me anxious. Eventually, he went back onto the balcony and settled under my jasmine plant.

I thought he might need a rest before flying off. But the next morning he was there, relaxing in the heat, still under the jasmine. After a little research I realized Pidgey had come to my balcony to die. Strangely, I felt such sadness. I wondered how he might be feeling trapped on a balcony in the heat with the noise of traffic — and my kids.

I put out water and bread, but he didn’t touch it. He just seemed to gaze out and surveil the world. His eyes looked accepting, with no expectations or demands.

He was just a regular pigeon, but his circumstances made me consider his graceful goodbye to the world. He chirped a little and bobbed among the various plants. He looked out at the skies that he’d once navigated with ease. But he seemed at peace.

The following day I found him on a chair. I raised the chair to see if it might encourage him to fly off, just in case he was trapped. He popped on to the railing and continued watching the world go by. One pigeon popped by as if to say goodbye.

The next morning I found him lifeless under the jasmine. I felt a wave of sadness, but a bigger feeling of gratitude.

This little bird had popped by to remind me that while life is a gift, death shouldn’t be something to be scared of. While I like to think there’s a special place reserved for Pidgey and his friends in eternal life, I know that when the time comes, our Father will be there ready to welcome each of us home.

Just like Pidgey, I’ll have my time on earth. And while I’m here I’ll try and make the most of what God has given me, and soak up the beauty that surrounds me — like the beauty I found in my visitor Pidgey with his petrol-green clump of feathers and inquisitive eyes.

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