Red Feathers

I hope you enjoy this post from an earlier era. First published in April 2004.

I could hardly believe my ears.  We were sitting in church on Easter Sunday when our children’s minister, Shelley, invited all of the children to come down to the front for a special time.  Landrye, my 2-year-old granddaughter, was sitting between Nancy and me.  I leaned over asked Landrye if she wanted to go down front with the rest of the kids.

“Yes,” she said.

Nancy asked her if she wanted Grampa to take her.

“Yes,” she said.

This was unheard of.  As a rule, Landrye didn’t venture very far away with just Grampa alone.  Perhaps she didn’t understand how far the front of the church was.  Nevertheless, we inched into the aisle and I walked proudly with her little hand in mine.

Landrye was wearing her new Easter dress with her pearly, pink shoes.  Her hair was done-up special with a big bow.  She was a real beauty and I was her proud grandfather.

Once we reached the stage, we took our place.  As Shelley began to talk to the children, Landrye looked back to our seats of origin and said, “I’m ready to go back.”

“Let’s stay just a little while longer,” I whispered.  Landrye crawled into my lap and patiently indulged me.  She was beginning to fidget just a bit when Shelley pulled out a big yellow feather and placed it on her flattened palm.  As she talked about the invisible ways that God works in our lives, she gently blew and the feather began its slow, floating descent to the floor.

I looked at Landrye, hoping that this demonstration would distract her a while longer.  She returned my gaze and spoke clearly, “Red feathers.”

Her little voice was soft but loud enough to be heard by a few.  The woman next to me, holding her little boy, turned to us and whispered, “Yellow.”

Landrye waited until she had turned again and repeated, “Red feathers.”

“Are you talking about the little bird you and Meemie helped yesterday?”

“Yes,” she said.

I knew the story well.  About the red bird that had fallen into a candleholder on our back porch.  How our beagle, Tipi, had alerted Landrye and Nancy to the little bird’s misfortune with her constant barking.  How Nancy had donned gloves and carefully plucked the frightened fowl from its tiny prison.  How they had placed this creature with red feathers on a close-by branch.  And how, with scarcely a look back, this little bird had flown gleefully to freedom.

“Red feathers,” Landrye whispered.

As I carried Landrye back to our waiting family, I couldn’t help but think that Landrye had discovered her own Easter story.  About creatures who fall into traps that seem so inviting.  How a greater being is ever-sensitive to their plight.  How a gentle guardian takes the captive beings into his hand and restores them to safety.  And how, with scarcely a look back, they fly gleefully to freedom.

Red feathers, indeed.

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