Tonight, after hearing a terrific crash in the basement, I went downstairs to discover a small blood stain on the window, and a bird perched on the windowsill. Upon closer inspection I could see that this mourning dove had crashed into the window during flight--not an uncommon phenomenon near our birdfeeders--and broken its neck.
The dove was bleeding from its mouth, and clearly having great difficulty breathing, its eyes closed and short, sharp gasps for air the only sound. I felt compelled to stay with it while it died. There was something beyond helplessness in the moment: I could do nothing. And yet I could stay and be there, experience the reality and loss, and bear witness.
Mourning doves are monogamous, and my mind went to the second dove I could not see, but whose voice I will hear at dawn. And my heart sung for this beautiful bird, and I pondered the words I have known all my life:
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
And so I mourn and thank the mourning dove, who reminds me that we are known and loved.