In 1997, Martina McBride released a song that would go on to become a hit entitled: “A Broken Wing.” The beginning lyrics are:
She loved him like he was the last man on Earth, gave him everything she ever had. He’d break her spirit down, then come lovin’ up on her, give a little and take it back.
She’d tell him ’bout her dreams, he’d just shoot ’em down, Lord, he loved to make her cry. “You’re crazy for believin’, you’ll never leave the ground” he said, “Only angels know how to fly”
And with a broken wing, she still sings, she keeps an eye on the sky. With a broken wing, she carries her dreams, man, you ought to see her fly…
When I was on my retreat, there was a lake I would walk around. It was a beautiful and very peaceful setting. There were also a lot of Canadian Geese on the property and of course they would sometimes be down by the lake. I love Canadian Geese. I think they are exquisite birds. I even love to hear them honking! So, it was a bonus for me at the retreat to hear the geese honking each morning as I woke up along with the bells for mass ringing throughout the day, beginning with the vigil mass at 4am. Full discloser: while on retreat, I attended all the masses, but I did not attend the vigil mass at 4am. There are limits.
The first full day I was there, I went exploring and that is when I found the lake and the beauty of the setting. There were benches and picnic tables scattered around and so I sat for a while to enjoy the quiet, peaceful beauty. As I looked around, I discovered a lone goose along the edge of the water. As I watched him/her I noticed something wasn’t quite right, so I got up and walked closer or as close as the goose would let me get…and it was then I realized…it had a broken wing. It could not fly.
Canadian Geese live between 10 and 24 years and they are monogamous, mating for the life of their partner. They are also migratory. This goose, with a broken wing, was alone. Even when the other geese would fly-in squawking and making all manner of racquet, this goose would remain alone. He/she would not join in with the others and would even actively ignore them when they were around, moving on to other parts of the lake as he/she waded along the shoreline. It was sad to watch. And to be honest, I wondered if, in the past, he/she had tried to integrate into the flock only to be rejected time and again as being inferior since this goose had a broken wing and was unable to fly.
As I watched this bird go about his/her business of finding food, I got to thinking about how many people in our world have broken wings. How many have been beat down by life or the people in their life who are supposed to love and support them. How many have been told time and again they don’t matter, they can’t do, their dreams don’t count. How many people have just given up and stood on the sidelines of life watching it pass them by because their self-esteem has been ground down into dust. How many.
Rebuilding your self-esteem takes time. A lot of time. It is hard work. But when you get to a point where you no longer believe the voices that have told you: you can’t, you don’t matter, you don’t count, you are worthless, you are stupid, or whatever you were told…When those voices no longer control you…you will fly.
One day, as I watched this goose with a broken wing wade along the edge of the lake, he/she began to wade deeper and deeper until this goose took off swimming. It was a beautiful thing to watch as he/she glided gracefully across the water. This beautiful bird may not have been able to actually fly…but fly he or she did across the surface of the water.
Here is the thing: Our own broken wings, however we have gotten them, may keep us from soaring through the clouds, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t find our own way to fly.
A Broken Wing is a great song and if you would like to listen to it, you can find it here on YouTube: