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How an Injured Bird Helped Her Cope with Grief

After a tragic loss, B.J. Taylor found healing with the animals in her life 

How an Injured Bird Helped Her Cope with Grief

Things haven’t been good in a while,” I said to Dawn over the phone, fighting back tears. “I had to tell you.” It was hard unburdening myself of this, even to my best friend.

“I’m so sorry, Diane,” she said softly, “but I’m glad you finally told me.” There was a pause. “Listen, I’m picking you up on Saturday morning. Wear old clothes.” She didn’t explain where we were going or why. I didn’t ask. I just hoped Dawn could get me through this.

A few weeks earlier, my husband called me from his office and said he wanted a divorce. I was shocked. I had felt a distance between us, but I thought we were just going through a rough patch. I never imagined he would actually leave. He moved out six days later. In the blink of an eye my marriage of 10 years was over. I felt like a failure. I felt so alone.

Dawn pulled into the driveway just after 8 a.m. that brisk Indiana Saturday. It wasn’t until I got in the car that she told me we were going to her uncle Bob’s farm in Jasper. “There’s someone you need to meet,” she said.

I needed someone to lean on. I couldn’t talk to my two young children. I couldn’t even talk to God. The truth was, I hadn’t thought about God in a long time. Even though I had been raised with a strong Christian faith, I stepped away from the church after I got married. Why would God listen to me now?

I tried to feel his presence during the two-hour ride from Indianapolis to Jasper. The tumbling clouds, grazing animals, sprawling crop fields—God’s work, I thought.

Dawn broke my daze. “I spent the entire summer after I graduated high school at Uncle Bob’s farm,” she said. She had fallen in with a group of troubled kids and had been drinking a lot. Her parents thought it would be a good idea for her to get away for a while.

“And it turned out to be the best thing, right?” I asked. “That’s why you want me to meet Uncle Bob?”

“I’m not taking you to meet Uncle Bob,” she said. “I’m taking you to meet Roger.”

We pulled up to the farm, and the first thing I heard was a rooster crowing raucously. “I thought roosters crow only at sunrise,” I said.

“Not Roger,” Dawn said, a little smile spreading across her face. “He crows all day long. Unceasingly.”

You brought me all the way here to meet a rooster?”

We parked and made our way to the chicken coop. There was Roger, the biggest rooster I had ever seen.

“Hi, old friend,” Dawn said.

Roger crowed back, as if to say, “I remember you.”

“I used to hate that crowing. It practically drove me crazy,” Dawn said. “Roger’s crowing reminded me of how I had let my family down, how I had let God down. Remember that story about Peter?”

Peter, the disciple who denied knowing Jesus. After his third denial, a rooster crowed. To show forgiveness after his resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. “It took almost the whole summer, but eventually I stopped associating Roger’s crowing with my failure and started feeling God’s forgiveness,” Dawn went on.

Could God forgive me too? For walking away from him? I looked at the rooster, strutting around the coop, crowing whenever he felt like it. He certainly has no problem speaking up, I thought.

Suddenly Roger looked right at me and crowed—not once, not eyes. “I’m sorry, Lord,” I whispered. “Please forgive me.”

The next day, I went to church for the first time in more than a decade. The pastor spoke about Peter. I knew then that no matter what the future held for me, I wasn’t alone at all. I never was.

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