The Owl: a True Story

by The Rev. Nigel Mumford
Mar/Apr 2002

At 6:30 A.M., Dec. 13, 2001, it was dark as I was driving to the Oratory (Gaylordsville, CT). I saw an owl, fluttering in the middle of the road, obviously hit by a car. Its left wing was twisted around and upturned.

I stopped my car in the middle of the road to stop any traffic, and got out with my flash light. The little owl's large yellow and black eyes were staring at me, without fear. I stroked it, and it seemed surprisingly peaceful. As I was wondering how to get it to the vet, I said a prayer for this wonderful creature of God. A pickup pulled up behind me. "This owl has been hit. Do you have a box I can put it in?" "Yes," the driver replied. When I picked up the owl, the right wing folded naturally, but the left wing remained outstretched, upturned. Broken? Into the box he went. I thought I would leave it in the back of my car until 9:00 A.M. when the vet's office would be open. For the next two hours I worked on a talk that I had been asked to give, an advent talk based on the third verse of Hark the Herald Angels Sing: "Risen with healing in his wings." Lost in my thoughts, I found Malachi 4:2-"But as for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings." Is it the sun with healing in its wings or the Son with healing in his wings?. What does it mean? How can he have healing in his wings?

I wrote my talk and I believe I answered that question. Then the bell rang for morning prayer in the chapel. At the prayers of the people I suddenly remembered the owl, and we prayed for it. After the service five of us went out to the car. I gingerly picked up the box, placed it on the ground and decided to let the owl out to see the extent of the injury in order to take it to the vet. The owl was swaying backwards and forwards with its eyes shut in the bright light. I tipped the box gently. The owl hesitated for just a moment and then, much to my surprise, stepped for­ward, stretched both wings, and with power and healing in its wings, took off to a tree about fifty feet away. We all burst into tears. "Risen with healing in its wings." Thank you, God, for the witness of healing a little owl this Christmas.

Nigel Mumford The Rev. Nigel Mumford is a member of CHM’s National Advisory Board and serves as director of The Oratory of Christ the Healer, Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, New York. Mar/Apr 2002 Issue