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The Boy Who Did Nothing


One morning, as gray fog hung low across the treetops, a young boy heard a hawk screeching. The boy pushed the back door open with sloth-like movements to dampen the creeks and squeaks those rusty hinges trumpeted when opened at normal speeds.

A white-breasted hawk was sitting on the limb of an oak tree. The boy inched toward the hawk to get a better look and it flew away. The boy was disappointed because he wanted to watch the squawking hawk.

Flapping wings caught the boy’s eye and across the yard, another hawk landed on top of a lamp pole.

This red-tailed hawk glared down at the paved road below and ruffled its feathers.

The boy noticed a gray and black blob stumbling across the street, heading into the neighbor's yard. It was a baby raccoon.

Talons extended, the hawk hopped off the light pole, swooped down over the top of the raccoon, and soared up to a nearby roof. For the moment, the raccoon was spared. The tiny creature nestled next to a tree and the boy walked right up to it. It appeared sick or injured. The raccoon toddled off from its spot by the tree and walked around like a drunken person, stumbling from side to side and occasionally falling onto its belly.

A lover of animals and nature, the boy thought, “What is the kind thing to do? Should I nurse the animal back to health? Or, had the mother raccoon kicked the baby out of the bunch because it was sick and could infect the kit?”

The raccoon stumbled down a grassy slope. Like a gargoyle on a castle wall, the hawk watched the scene from overhead. The boy turned his back and walked away thinking, “Perhaps my presence saved the raccoon and the hawk. The lame baby wasn’t hawk food and the hawk didn’t snatch up a sick meal.”

Kindness, he decided, can be the act of letting events unfold. Your presence has an impact. On some days, in some situations, that is good enough.

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