I walk down the path behind the church and come upon the bright yellow eyes of an owl in the eucalyptus tree. He is just twenty feet above my head. I stop and stare, hoping not to scare him off. He looks left then right, settles in, and peers at me. I ask the owl a question.
“Can we chat?” The owl tips his head to one side and responds.
“You seem nice, but I have heard enough bad things about humans to be mistrustful”.
“I don’t want to hurt you. I just want to talk, and I understand that you are wise.”
“I try to pay attention to the currents of the wind.”
“I am feeling kind of lost today. So many bad things are happening in the world.”
“You humans fight a lot. And don’t always cooperate to solve common problems.”
“I know and today I have started to spiral down and feel a heaviness in my chest.”
“Pause here on the path and tell me more.” I sit down and poke at a thin, dry branch.
“The Delta variant is scary. People have to tighten up again after becoming more relaxed. Anti-vaxxing protests are rising as mask mandates are re-instituted. Most people only follow the news that confirms their own biases. I do it also. So objective facts have a hard time getting through all the noise. Yeah, you are right, we humans don’t cooperate much.”
“So, you have the coronavirus issue, which is global. What else?”
“Afghanistan. After a twenty-year war, America pulled out its troops. The Taliban swiftly took over, which left Afghan citizens stranded on the tarmac.”
“I know. It was complicated and I ignored all the cross-blaming over party lines. But the good news is that Biden has rallied and sent back troops and planes to get more refugees to safety.”
“Sometimes one small good deed can raise hope.” The owl bowed and I watched him fluff his black and white feathers, then fly off across the soft blue sky, carving graceful curves into the gentle wind.
I look down and see a yellow-green shoot come through a crack in the cement. I stroke it, stand up, and walk home with a lighter step.