Editor’s Note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published in May 2000. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness. The Register-Herald will continue to publish her previous columns.

After visiting a friend in the hospital, I headed toward the parking lot when suddenly I heard a dull thud behind me.

At first, I saw nothing, then spotted a small brown sparrow lying on the ground. Realizing the bird had hit the window, I couldn’t walk away without trying to do something.

The bird was alive but stunned. I know now I could have left it there, and in all likelihood, it would have been fine.

However, I felt compelled to make a rescue attempt, so I scooped up my new feathered friend, put it in the car and started home.

On the way, I stopped and bought bird seed and inventoried my brain for a memory of where I had stored the last bird cage I owned.

Nestling in a wad of tissues I put around it, the sparrow remained still, but a dozen questions flitted through my mind.

What would I do if it were injured?

What special needs does a sparrow have?

How would I keep a bird safe in a house with six cats?

I had just pulled into my driveway, opened the car door and reached for the bird.

Suddenly, it took flight, sailed right past me and up to the highest limb of a nearby walnut tree.

“Well, Lord, it’s in Your hands now,” I sighed. Without hesitation, a voice inside my head whispered, “It always was.”

I got the message. So often, I tend to take on tasks and burdens that are not mine to bear.

I forget to ask for guidance in choosing my priorities.

When I do, I wind up encumbered with all kinds of responsibilities and worries that take time away from other things I should be doing.

When the object of compassion is human, I often have difficulty knowing whether to get intensely involved or to leave some space so the person can have room to make his or her own discoveries.

I believe we can stand in the way of someone’s growth by smothering them with too much intervention. We can clip the very wings they need to take flight.

The answer may be as close as the ancient Serenity Prayer:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Ah, it’s that last part we forget — to pray for the wisdom to know what our role should be in a given situation.

Many times I have found myself taking the responsibility for someone else’s problem instead of allowing them to own the situation and work through it.

By the time my little sparrow took flight, I had carried it more than 20 miles from where it crash-landed.

When I become too involved in another’s problems, I may cause them to go miles out of their way, when the answer they need is right at their fingertips.

Sometimes, people just need a chance to catch their breath, get their bearings and move on.

At least, that’s the way one little bird explained it to me.

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