I am seemingly outdoors, but yet inside our house. It does not quite make sense, because there is a tree overhead directly shading the floor inside. Be that as it may, however, there is a commotion going on: Our cats are chasing around under the tree, either after each other or something else — I am not quite sure which.
Then I see it: some kind of animal they are attempting to get at and toy with, standing on the floor. It is injured, but this time I do not think the cats are the ones who have been the cause, as they usually are with a small animal they have cornered.
I go over to see what kind of animal it is, and cannot tell at first. But somehow it has found its way just inside our back door. I try to take hold of it and carefully shoo it out the door away from the cats for its own protection, but am unable to get a grip on the animal. It is mangled and struggles to come back through the door. However, doing so will continue attracting the cats who will want to play with and kill it. Despite my shooing, the animal keeps trying to come back in the door for shelter, either unaware of or despite the cats.
Though I am unsuccessful trying to herd the animal out, I manage to find a way to keep it protected from the cats by stooping over and loosely cupping my hands around its body to create a shield, my fingers lightly brushing against it as I do. And as my hands make this contact, now my eyes become enabled to see the animal more clearly: I recognize it is a wild but hurt and grounded falcon that has walked its way, not flown, into our house in its injured state.
As I corral the falcon inside the lattice of my hands and outstretched fingers to protect it, it warms to my presence and begins quieting down and struggling less. Now I can also see that the falcon is no longer able to fly because something has stripped off too many of its feathers.
I have not ever come so near to holding a wild animal like this before, with my hands cradled so close around it. As I continue holding them there, my palms and fingers begin sensing a very strong radiance and warmth emanating from the falcon’s chest. I am deeply struck by it, and suddenly my eyes are opened to the wondrous nature of this creature.
This bird — though in tatters, mangled, and hurt — possesses a truly magnificent, beautiful, strong, and expansive heart that remains unfazed, the realization of which awes me. Such a small animal. Now so vulnerable shorn of so much of its plumage. Yet with such a powerful and incandescent heart.
I am inspired yet heartbroken for the falcon and emotionally overcome. If I do not save this noble creature, there is no one else who will see it in time to do so. Without help, it will die. Even though now it still lives with a fierce inner fire pulsing with abundant life, that powerful light will be snuffed out. And for what? Why? I cannot let that happen.
I now understand the falcon wants inside because whatever is outside that has injured it concerns the falcon more than the cats. Yet I will not be able to keep them at bay if it stays inside much longer. The bird is no match for them in its current condition. Back outside is the only way, at least for the moment. So, remaining crouched over the falcon with arms outstretched toward it, I begin to shepherd and walk the bird outside, still corralling it within the protection of my encircling hands.
I am unsure how to best handle or care for an injured falcon, but feel lucky and blessed to have discovered that it is a falcon — and with such a heart as this one. I hope that I can find the wherewithal to help it be whole again, and think:
Ah, if only my own heart could be so strong and magnificent as the one that lives inside this bird!
Then, as I escort the falcon back outdoors away from the cats, and am able to observe it more closely, I am dismayed and taken aback to discover the falcon has now somehow turned into an abandoned little black and brown dog, perhaps a chihuahua.
The little dog is cowering and bereft, sitting inside an upright brown paper sack placed within a round wicker flower basket, though one with no flowers, just the sack and dog inside. The dog looks up at me out of the sack with doleful eyes, shaking, pleading.
I believe it is likely a neighbor’s dog rather than a stray. So I carry the flower basket with the little dog sitting inside the sack to a neighbor’s house next door. For some odd reason, I am not familiar with this house nor do I know who these neighbors are, but I knock on a side door.
A woman answers the door, and I can see by the look of things that she and her household are poor people. Yes, she says, it is her dog but she cannot afford to keep it. Beyond that she does not offer anything.
I make my way inside and tell the woman that I can find the dog another home. In her kitchen, I set the little dog down on the floor in its basket and sack. But after I do so, it begins cowering again and hankering for me to hold it.
The woman has disappeared elsewhere into the house, but comes back a few minutes later. I tell her again that I can find the dog a home, but once more she does not respond and instead disappears another time.
Then I see her young daughter of about 10 or 12 years old sitting on the other side of the kitchen. She looks at me as if she has seen all this before. Her mother comes back, and seeing her daughter there now, says that, oh, she can take care of the dog after all.
But the daughter tells her mom, the man will find the dog a home. Her mother again claims she will take care of the dog, but I know she will not and that the dog will eventually die for lack of care if I do not intervene. Either that, or its spirit, which is broken enough now as it is, will eventually be damaged beyond repair by neglect. The dog is too far gone to wait any longer, on the chance that someone else in the future might step in to help.
It isn’t my nature to impose my will on a situation that another has rightful say over. Deferring to them is my habit. But the dog’s owner has crossed a boundary that pushes me beyond mine. Now is the time to act.
I know what must be done, so I walk over to pick up the poor little abandoned, shaking dog with doleful eyes to take it back to our house.
And as I do so, I wake up.
Nestled next to me in bed is one of our cats, napping and waiting patiently for me to arise, her littermate sleeping at my feet.