In dreary December dusk, I walk on the cold, gray street. The internal clock of my brain tick tocks: just one more week til Christmas and I've still got stuff to do.
Overhead, I hear a flutter like the audible ripple of a Spanish dancer's fan unfurling. I search the trees. Is it a bat? No, not a bat; gray on gray, a lone sparrow flits from branch to branch, as if following my path on rapid, beating wings.
She doesn't sing. Other than the rustle of flight, she moves in silence. I wonder if, like me, she's cold.
Tentative, I try my own voice and hum Silent Night softly while I watch the agitated flutter of her wings. Silent Night reminds me not of Christmas Eve but, rather, the Winter Solstice. It was on the longest night of the year that my mother lay dying while my sister and I watched swirling crystalline snow sweep past her drafty nursing home window.
Suddenly, my sparrow friend swoops low and disappears into a different dimension: a tangle of brambles next to the road. She'll probably sleep in there.
"Birds and trees, people and ghosts," I think, "We all inhabit different dimensions. On occasion, we pass through the open windows of each other's lives but only for a few finite moments. For the most part, the dimensions inhabited by our fellow beings remain closed and unknowable to us."
The internal clock of my brain tick tocks: it's time to turn around. As I walk, I wonder about the little sparrow; why was she out so late and alone? Did she get lost from her flock?
I hope not, but I am not of her flock, nor is she of mine. Beyond our fleeting intersection, we have nothing to offer each other. Still, as I hurry to the cozy dimension of my own home, I wish her well. May she too sleep safe, warm and dry tonight in the tangled dimension of her own small, bramble nest.