Why do we wish, wonder, and wait?

Bird Droppings August 15, 2022

Why do we wish, wonder, and wait?

“Calamity is the perfect glass wherein we truly see and know ourselves.” William Davenant

It has been nearly sixteen years since we moved last and found ourselves in this house.  I wasn’t sure where to start. Several ideas have been running through my thinking the past few hours. I wanted to avoid the current news cycle of hatred and Covid. It has been almost seventeen years since I read and heard the news on Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s death. As I do my best pondering when alone, I went outside to take a few pictures, walking in our pool, thinking, and wondering about the shortness of life. I looked about the backyard I know so well in the dark, spending more time here in the early hours than during the day; it often seems to take pictures by a flash of night-blooming flowers, spiders, and tree frogs. We do become attached to routines, people, and things. I missed this time of year with new teachers and co-teaching with several great friends. While I enjoyed retirement, I was bored. It has taken some time to adjust, granted I like being retired. I made a choice and went back to the classroom, granted part-time. As I think back, I did enjoy co-teaching with some great teachers. The funny thing was I fought the idea of co-teaching for several years and never co-taught a class in my first ten years of special education.

On another topic, grandbabies, my wife, and I have been discussing ideas of rearranging, cleaning up, and redecorating our official grandbaby’s cave (room). I have never planned an endeavor in detail and thought out why and how, but in this additional grandbaby event, a significant change for us, we find new sustenance. As the days and hours get closer, my sons will join in, and we will make new play accommodations for our grandbabies. My wife and I will sort through the preponderance of materials we have collected over the years, memories from raising three sons. I am a pack rat (hoarder), no doubt about it, but I am sure there will be items we might use among the boxes. Looking back at those pieces of our lives together, good, bad, calamity, tragedy, and uplifting experiences is often rugged. Somehow it seems there has always been a light.  One priority is doing my scrapbook of teaching at the high school, hundreds of pictures, letters, etc.

Nearly seventeen years ago, I recall my first email of the day was from a dear friend, Dr. James Sutton, who wrote a beautiful forward for my first book, now more than likely my dissertation to be of Bird Droppings, engaging curriculum through storytelling. I was opening emails not too long ago and another note from Dr. Sutton.

“It’s great to be affirmed. A chuckle: I mentioned in a training session one time that we need always to be aware that the boy in our class who can’t keep his hands to himself may well hold a scalpel someday and save our life. One lady in the audience gasped: ‘Oh my God! I just pictured Johnny with a KNIFE!’” Dr. James Sutton

In a Saturday BD a few weeks back, I was talking about being reaffirmed as a teacher from a previous student’s comment. But for Today, I go back to words from two songs running through my head for some time now. Both are older songs, but to me, significant. Country Stars Big and Rich claim to fame is the song; Save a horse ride a Cowboy; not one of my favorites though it helped promote them to national fame. It is another song on that same album that, to me, is a far more powerful message entitled, Holy water. I heard this song nearly ten years ago and was impressed with the harmonies and words. But as songs go, I heard them wrong, as we often do.

Holy Water

By Big and Rich

Somewhere there’s a stolen halo
I used to watch her wear it well
Everything would shine wherever she would go
But looking at her now, you’d never tell

Someone ran away with her innocence
A memory she can’t get out of her head
I can only imagine what she’s feeling
When she’s praying
Kneeling at the edge of her bed

And she says, take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She wants someone to call her angel
Someone to put the light back in her eyes
She’s looking through the faces
The unfamiliar places
She needs someone to hear her when she cries

And she says, take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She just needs a little help
To wash away the pain, she’s felt
She wants to feel the healing hands
Of someone who understands

And she says, take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me
And she says, take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

The first time I heard this song, tears welled up. I was listening to the words of holy water as if the woman in the song was being washed or cleansed by holy water. I used the words in class many months ago. I took the CD into the sort of a listen and translated for students and asked what this song was about, and one of my red-necked skateboarders piped up and set me straight.   “Mr. Bird, she wants to be held like holy water – special sacred.” The old saying could not be more accurate from the mouths of babes. How many of us want to be held like Holy Water at some point in our lives? I remembered a quote from Parker Palmer that I used a few days ago.

“Sacred means, quite simply, worthy of respect.” Parker Palmer

Years back, for lunch, my oldest son and I were eating at a barbeque place, and on the TV, a Martina McBride music video was showing entitled, God’s Will. It hit me again. This time I was in tears and a powerful image as I thought back to what took me into teaching exceptional children so many years ago. I thought back to my little brother John.

God’s Will

By Martina McBride

I met God’s Will on a Halloween night
He was dressed as a bag of leaves
It hid the braces on his legs at first

His smile was as bright as the August sun
When he looked at me
As he struggled down the driveway, it almost
Made me hurt

Will don’t walk too good
Will don’t talk too good
He won’t do the things that the other kids do,
In our neighborhood

I’ve been searchin’, wonderin’, thinkin’
Lost and lookin’ all my life
I’ve been wounded, jaded, loved, and hated
I’ve wrestled wrong and right
He was a boy without a father
And his mother’s miracle
I’ve been readin’, writin’, prayin’, fightin’
I guess I would be still
Yeah, that was until
I knew God’s Will

Will’s mom had to work two jobs
We’d watch him when she had to work late
And we’d all laugh like I hadn’t laughed
Since I don’t know when

Hey Jude was his favorite song
At dinner, he’d ask to pray
And then he’d pray for everybody in the world but him


Before they moved to California
His mother said they didn’t think he’d live
And she said each day that I have him, well it’s just
another gift
And I never got to tell her that the boy
Showed me the truth
In crayon red, on notebook paper, he’d written
Me and God love you

I’ve been searchin’, prayin’, wounded, jaded
I guess I would be still
Yeah, that was until…
I met God’s Will on a Halloween night
He was dressed as a bag of leaves

My son asked, “Dad are you crying again” as I watched a powerful music video and song for some of us who are where we are to be. Over fifty years ago, my brother John was born. My mother was in labor for nearly two days, and John was born with cerebral palsy and severe brain damage. When he was two, while in Florida, he contracted encephalitis and suffered more brain injury. John lived till a few years ago with his family sharing in all gatherings all the time. He never spoke a word. He was never toilet trained, yet he left his mark on each of our lives. So much of the past two days got me thinking back in time.

The impact my brother John had spanned several states as his influence spread. In 1971, the city of Macon was segregated in its education of exceptional children till John came along. Many the teachers of exceptional children who, after babysitting or being around John, chose this field to teach in this field and in other areas of education, including myself, two sisters, my oldest son, and several nieces and nephews. My own family ended up in Georgia because of John. He is buried on a hill by my brother’s home in Walton County, and not a day goes by that I do not look back and wonder what if he had not happened to our family.

My mother has answered in several poems and thoughts she has put together over the years. My brothers and sisters have responded in their fashion, and I respond in Bird Droppings. Sitting here thinking of the passing of a good soul in Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and my brother John and thinking of these two songs, maybe we can begin to set aside differences and challenges and calamities and start seeking out each other. Peace, my dear friends, and thank you all for the support and emails over the years; please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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