The front door slammed. "Hey Mom!" Where's a box I could have?" Called seven year old Hyrum as he entered the kitchen.
"What do you need it for?" I responded and continued fixing dinner.
"I want to catch a bird and I need a box to make the trap," he answered.
"I think there is one in the garage that might work," I told him.
"No, there isn't. I looked already,"
"Well try the shed. I'm sure you could find something in the shed that would work---maybe a plastic storage bin."
"Thanks Mom!" he yelled over his shoulder as he ran off in pursuit of the box.
Later that evening, we sat on the porch visiting with Grandma and Grandpa. With his Dad's help, Hyrum had built his bird catching trap. It was a simple, even awkward affair set up right under the trellis where my husband has a dozen bird feeders. The opaque storage bin was propped up with a stick which had a string attached to it. Under the bin was a large dish haphazardly filled to the brim with bird seed. In the bark surrounding the dish was an inch or so of scattered seed. The string stretched 20 feet from the trap to the porch where my son sat expectantly waiting for "his" bird.
By bedtime that night, Hyrum hadn't caught a bird yet and wanted to stay by his trap. His Dad persuaded him to come into bed when he told Hyrum that birds are most active and hungry in the morning. With reluctant obedience he went to bed.
Next morning at 6:30 Hyrum stood by my bedside. I was just waking up myself and there he stood in his pajamas anxious to get outside. "Can I go watch my trap, Mom?" He whispered. I muttered something about it being still so early for him, but sure go right ahead. Hyrum sat by that trap for the next two hours, patiently anticipating success. But the birds just weren't interested in what was under the trap.
On his way out the door to work Dad encouraged, "Keep trying Hyrum. It will take awhile before the birds realize there is seed under there, but they will find it." Just minutes later Dad came back into the kitchen with a hurt robin cupped in his hands. This brought a flurry of excitement as the children, including Hyrum, came running to see. Dad left the bird in the care of Laura (13) and Brian (19) and soon it was nestled in a comfortable house and had worms and grasshoppers at its leisure. But Hyrum had returned to his post on the porch to keep careful watch on his trap.
He was determined. Hour after hour he sat there watching and waiting; hoping and believing that he would catch a bird in that trap. I coaxed him away from his vigilant watch to dress, comb his hair and make his bed. Later I insisted he come away to help with chores and to have lunch. He cheerfully did his chores, and cooked the quesadillas for our lunch, but the instant he had filled my requirements, he was back on the porch tending his trap.
As he sat there hour after hour without catching a bird, Hyrum started thinking. He tried new approaches. He tried laying down on several chairs pushed together so as to be less visible to the birds. He kept shooing Hannah (3) and Caleb (9) away because he said they were too noisy and kept scaring the birds. Next, he tried putting a jacket over his face and body so the birds wouldn't even know he was there. With his face peeking out he had full view of the trap. He was sure this would do the trick, but still no bird.
About mid-afternoon Brian came home with an incredible surprise. Cupped in his hands was a terrified baby kestrel. He had found it hopping around in the road near our home. It had fallen from its nest and was unable to fly. So for the second time in the same day, our family was graced with a bird gift. We cared for and enjoyed this little creature until we could figure out what to do with it. Later, the nest was discovered and the baby kestrel was placed carefully back in the nest with its three squawking siblings.
Hyrum enjoyed the baby kestrel, but it wasn't the bird experience he had set out to have. He was soon back at his post, still determined to catch his bird. In fact, Hyrum was getting specific in his desires. He told me he really liked doves because he said, "That's the bird that was at Jesus' baptism. I want to catch a dove."
I was busy cooking dinner when Hyrum came to me with another idea. He asked if he could bring the string in through the window and sit in the front room where the birds for sure wouldn't even know he was there. I agreed but told him I would need to help him get the screen out and I asked that he wait until I was done in the kitchen. Hyrum went out satisfied and I quickly forgot about the string and the screen and a little boy's dream.
Later as we were eating dinner, Hyrum finished first and quietly slipped away. When all of sudden he came bursting into the kitchen, eyes bright with excitement, yelling at the top of his lungs, "I CAUGHT A BIRD! I CAUGHT A DOVE!" Utter commotion ensued as 7 children and a mother bolted outside to see Hyrum's catch. The poor dove was terrified and kept trying to fly, but of course couldn't get more than six inches off the ground before it would slam into the plastic storage container. There were shrieks of "hurry, let it go before it kills itself!" Brian calmly slid his arm under the box and cupped his hand around the frightened bird. He brought the dove out where all could see. Then he carefully transferred it into Hyrum's little hands. Proudly, exultantly Hyrum held "his" bird as we took in its beauty. We marveled at the iridescent pink, purple and green feathers on its neck and the deep black of its eyes. We opened one of its wings and touched the softness of its breast feathers. Then we took pictures and showed the curious neighbors. Finally, Hyrum let his dove go. He laughed joyously as the dove's wings beat frantically in his face and then took flight.
As the excitement lulled, I noticed the string which Hyrum had carefully threaded through a ¼ inch hole in the window screen. I also saw the newly made 1 inch vertical tear near the hole. He hadn't waited for my help like I had asked. I couldn't be mad though. How could I? Instead, as I looked at that string, I was deeply touched by my son's belief, determination and persistence. He believed he could catch a bird and specifically a dove. He worked patiently to make it happen. His efforts had been blessed by a Power beyond his own and so the dream became his reality. Oh, the clear and pure belief of a child! His belief blessed our whole family with two serendipitous bird experiences that day, but Hyrum didn't stop until what he wanted, what he believed he could have, actually came to him-his dove.
As I sit writing this, I see through the window Hyrum's abandoned bird trap. It is now nothing more than a lonely plastic storage bin turned upside down under the trellis. The bowl of seed is still inside. The string still stretches across the grass to the porch and yes even through the hole in the window screen. I think I will leave them just as they are for a time-reminders of a little boy and his bird and evidence to my crusty heart that pure, simple belief brings miracles.