[Note: I took a short FB post from a few days ago and came up with this.]
HIS FEET HEAVY, his back aching and his head groggy from yet another night of not-enough sleep, the man stepped onto the stoop of his building in the early morning semi-darkness to look for his newspapers.
It was a cool and uncharacteristically serene dawn – no roaring, rumbling trucks or wailing sirens on the nearby thoroughfare. The eastern sky was already well into its black-to-blue transition. Pausing to take it all in, and to allow his back to adjust, he looked up, past the greening limbs of the trees, and marveled at the still-bright waning moon, which hovered starkly against the clear dark sky. His contemplation of the moon was interrupted by a subdued whisper-like rustling that seemed to originate somewhere in front of him, beneath the massive oak tree that has reigned in front of his building for generations.
Glancing down, the man’s eyes caught sight of a robin, bopping up and down and scurrying here and there in search of an early-morning meal. It was still too dark to see the bird’s red breast, but he knew immediately that it was a robin. It was no more than a few feet in front of him, just beyond the black metal gate, and he could clearly see the characteristically plump body of a robin. Seeming to sense the man’s presence, the bird stopped abruptly and froze. It held its pose, its silent silhouette offering a portrait in stillness.
“Good morning, Mr. Robin,” the man said softly. He spoke the words almost in a murmur, not wishing to scare the visitor away. And in a single quirky hop, the bird swiveled to face him. Standing still except for the ever-so-slight cocking of its chubby head, it seemed to be contemplating, for a second or two, the man’s being there, or his greeting. And then it bowed.
Common sense told the man that the bird had lowered its head, not in response to his greeting, but in order to peck at a bug, a seed or some other morsel of food. His heart, however, told him otherwise; it urged him to embrace the notion that on this chilly Washington April morning, this feathered visitor – this harbinger of the season – had indeed bowed in acknowledgment of his presence, of his being.
And so the man did what 65 years of living had taught him to do when in the presence of nobility: He bowed in return.