Brody: Look up for strength, guidance

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Life lessons come in all forms and it is our job to recognize them when we see them and make them part of who we are.

It was birds who taught me to look up, not down, when dealing with something God wants me to do.

It was dark even at 8 a.m. — dark and bitter cold.

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We were beginning our long drive home from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

On the outskirts of town, I saw two large birds sitting on a high, bare tree branch.

The birds were silent, just sitting together, actually touching in their closeness.

I don’t know what drew me to look up, but I identified with the bleakness I felt looking at these two big birds.

Gene and I had been living in bleakness the last year as his cancer slowly claimed his body. So maybe that was why I was led to look up.

I also saw their strength — the strength borne of each one dependent on the other and, at the same time, both being the strength for the other.

As I looked at these two big birds, I could just see Gene and myself each holding up the other while still dependent upon the other.

I knew the connection, and I knew why I looked up.

Thus my life lesson was in place. It was always “look up” for the source of my strength.

Now for my story which occurred because a friend looked up.

I had some friends who lived on a large ranch outside of Salida, Colorado.

One of their favorite things to do as a family is walk with their two dogs through their forests and see all of nature’s bounty.

One fall day as they peacefully walked among the large beautiful trees, they suddenly heard a sound. They immediately stood still and listened. There it was — a small meow again and again.

It sounded like a kitten but surely no kitten was in this dense forest.

The whole family got on their hands and knees to find the source of the pathetic meow but to no avail.

Then the dad of the family felt led to “look up,” even though it seemed like an unlikely gesture. I mean, what living being could be up a tree in this forest?

He looked up — higher, higher, higher, and when his eyes found the very tip top of one of the tallest trees, there, holding on for dear life, was the tiniest yellow baby kitten.

My friend could not believe what his eyes beheld. There was no way any baby kitten could have climbed to the top of that tree.

But, never mind, the dad seemed to know what he had to do. Leaving the group to watch over the kitten, he ran home to grab his tallest ladder and return with it to the tree.

He climbed as far as the ladder allowed and finished the height by using tree limbs.

Finally, he could touch the broken tiny baby.

The dad was shocked at what he saw. Every part of the kitten’s body was slashed and bleeding.

Carefully, he slipped his hand under the kitten and, finding no resistance, he folded it to his chest.

He held the ball of fur close as he descended the ladder to the ground.

As quickly as possible the family got it to a veterinarian friend who came to his clinic just for this.

As he laid it on the examination table the poor little thing looked at the vet as if to say, “Help me, help me.” And after a complete workup, here’s what the vet told them.

“There’s no way this poor baby kitten got to the top of that tree.

“I’m sure by the way his wounds look a large bird must have seen a mother and her kittens on the ground somewhere and simply swooped down grabbed this one and flew away with it to kill it.

“Then, for some reason, the bird must have lost it’s grip and dropped the kitten and it landed in the treetop.

“Of course, it would have died of not only terrible wounds but would have starved to death anyway.”

The vet asked them, “Do you want to try and save this kitten?” They immediate answer was, “Oh yes. Just tell us what to do.”

The vet said they would have to leave it so he could heal the traumatized baby before it could leave but, the vet looked directly at the precious family and especially at the kind dad, “You did the most important thing. You looked up.”

These plus other incidences in my life have taught me to look up for my strength.

There was a time when I forgot and looked down thinking I could manage on my own.

I have learned it is risky business to depend on myself for the right thing to do.

All my decisions and strength now come only after I “look up.”

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.