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I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from YHWH, who made heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121:1-2

When a bird is going to require a long rehabilitation before being returned to the wild, often the plan includes minimizing contact with their human helpers so that they don’t come to associate humans with help or more tragically giving them the false notion that all humans are kind. And if the bird is raised from an egg there is the risk that they will imprint on a particular human, mistaking them for their parent and then be unable to separate when the time comes to be on their own. There is a flock of cranes who famously learned to migrate only by following “their human” leading them in an ultralight aircraft.

When the goal is not freedom but captivity, then, of course, kindness looks like the mirror opposite. In order to assure that a raptor returns to the falconer’s glove, they are trained to rely on the human for all their needs. Humans doting on their pet birds can create bonds that allow some free flight and sometimes creative interactions such as tricks and speech.

The psalmist looked for help, realizing that it didn’t come from the visible hills, but the invisible creator of the hills and everything (and everyone) else. If we settle for help from what has been created, we run the risk of the captivity of addiction. We end up needing more and more of that thing, or even person, that fills our need. That is why the twelve steps begin with acknowledging our powerlessness and a need for a higher power. The divine plan is not for a benign captivity but for a liberation to an abundant life knowing that not only do we have all that we need, but that through grace we have also received the means to achieve freedom.

Prayer: Higher Power, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen


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