free bird

Not long ago, while looking for a poem
I’d scribbled down in an old journal, out fluttered a lovingly worn and yellowed newspaper clipping entitled “Bulgaria’s Last Dancing Bears Finally Footloose.” It reports the story of the last three known captive dancing bears being ransomed and released into a sanctuary built for these regal
animals…..captured young, mistreated, shackled, and forced into unnatural positions and roles while
onlookers heckled and stared.
The oldest had performed in streets and carnivals, chains painfully piercing her nose and lip, for the past
nineteen years. The photo of this trapped creature touched me deeply. Her eyes told the story of bitter tears rusted over as they trudged down ancient cheeks grown stony with ache. Now, she and the others were set free to live out the remainder of their lives unshackled….unleashed…unfettered.
I’ve poured over this article these past seven years like a favorite psalm, letting it pull and tug at my deepest heart. Something in their story calls to the hushed places in my own soul….the swallowed lumps in my throat….the disempowered and muzzled places. And as I let love’s eyes meet mine, more of my heart is released to lumber awkwardly into the wild…….footloose.