Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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August 23, 2022

Adam R. Nettesheim

The hot sun warmed the little sparrow’s wings as he darted over mud-brick houses, looking for his next meal. The small town was not normally a busy place, so the large gathering of people caught the sparrow’s attention. This distracted him just enough to misjudge his flight path, and he collided hard with the branch of a gnarled old sycamore tree. 


The bird dropped senselessly to the ground in a crumpled state and small cloud of dust.

Slowly, the sparrow began to come to. As he did, he realized that he was caught in the hands of a human. In a flash of panic, the little bird remembered every terrifying contact with humans he had endured. He remembered the small boy with a wide grin that tried to ensnare him, and the woman who scowled as she swatted him off her roof with a broom. He remembered the countless rocks thrown at him by human hands. All this had created within him an instinct that now screamed “FLY!” The sparrow thrashed against the enclosed fingers, trying to get away so the large hands opened, seeming to honor the request. But as the bird attempted to fly, pain shot through his body and the sparrow went limp, falling to the ground again. He lay at the feet of the human, breathing quickly and unable to escape.

The hands reached down, gently lifted the bird and cradled him again. Its long fingers stroked the bird’s head softly.

The sparrow’s eye met the eyes of the human for a moment, but strangely, this human’s face and hands made him feel different than other faces and hands had. 

The hands then slowly closed over the bird. “Death,” thought the sparrow as darkness enveloped his senses. He did not thrash this time. Resigned to this fate, his breath slowed, and his body remained still.


The bird heard a strange sound and felt a warm sensation quickly coursing through every part of his body. His eyes blinked and he stood up on his legs as the hands opened again. The sparrow’s head swiveled back and forth, looking around for the source of the noise.

The hand raised the bird up to the human’s eye level and the bird turned to see it was showing its teeth, yet somehow this didn’t seem threatening. The human fingers ran down the sparrows’ wing and its mouth whispered one word twice. “Good. Good.” Then the hand raised higher, creating a platform by which the bird could take flight. The bird looked toward the ground and remembered the pain of his fall so he hopped back from the edge. But the human blew a puff of air under his body and his wings naturally fluttered out again, extending to their full state. The bird’s eyes looked up and saw the familiar deep blue sky. Without another hesitation, he launched.

The sparrow circled around the tree in three long swoops, then with a flap of his wings began his flight back home. 

Featured illustration is courtesy of Adam R. Nettesheim and used with his kind permission for Cultivating.


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  1. Jo Larson says:

    Powerful little story summarizing the difference we can make when we offer loving human touch, kindness and support to all of God’s creatures, great and small.

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