Image by TheOtherKev on Pixabay
Good morning, robin redbreast!
How are you today?
I see you as you’re swaying on
the branch of that tree.
I feel you saying to the wind,
“Stop blowin’. I’m perchin’ here.
I’m holdin’ on, but I could use your help.
Stop it with the swayin’ already.
What does it take for you to listen to me?”
I wonder what robin redbreast is thinking?
Could it be….
“All I asked is for the wind to calm down.
Well, I’m gettin’ dizzy goin’ up and goin’ down.
I’m gettin’ off this merry-go-round.”
Robin redbreast flies onto the grass.
He struts his stuff.
He’s had more than enough.
We have our ups and our downs —
times we can’t see the way.
The path is unclear —
times we have fear —
times we cry when the stress of life gets too high.
But I wonder if we could be a little like that robin redbreast?
What did he do when going up and down on that tree branch?
He understood when he needed to fly away.
He tried to hold on,
but when the wind wouldn’t listen to him,
he dealt with it.
He flew to safety.
We need to understand when to ask for help.
There is no shame in that.
You see, it took me decades to see that truth.
People said I was lazy.
They said I was a good-for-nothing-
If I just tried a little harder everything would turn out right.
I collapsed several times from weakness from age 34 to 38.
In 2001 I was diagnosed with B12 deficiency.
It took over five months for the B12 level to normalize in
On B12 injections my energy, focus, and mood improved.
I had become so depressed before the diagnosis I was giving
away the few possessions I had.
I thought I was going to die,
but like the robin redbreast, I held on with every bit of energy I had left.
Brighter days came.
I didn’t give up.
I graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Theology degree.
It took 13 years between studying and working to obtain it.
Even while dealing with the fatigue of B12 deficiency,
I graduated with honors.
I did the same throughout high school.
I often stayed up past 2 a.m. pounding concepts, mathematical formulas, dates in history into my brain.
I would often go to bed drained.
I squeaked by with an 80% average in Grade 13.
I became an Ontario scholar for doing that.
I never thought that it would happen to me,
but it did.
In 2014 I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition called mastocytosis.
Karen tells people it’s like having allergy on steroids.
It was found from a skin biopsy of a lesion.
I’ve been intubated 10 times because of anaphylactic attacks.
During one anaphylactic reaction a doctor said to Karen, “Mr. Osborne has been asleep too long. Even though the ventilator is breathing for him, his heart is under a heavy strain. If he doesn’t wake up soon, he could die.”
What does any wife do when you’re told your husband could die?
How does any spouse or anyone react to such a statement?
We are thankful because of the excellent care I received
I did wake up.
I wasn’t out of danger.
I had to be in I.C.U. for a week.
I was in a medical ward for two weeks under the care of an internal medicine specialist and his team.
They worked hard to keep me alive.
My faith says God was responsible for saving my life.
He wasn’t finished with me yet.
He still had work for me to do.
If you’re alive your work for Him isn’t done.
When it is,
when your magnum opus is finished,
God will take you home to Heaven’s sun,
where there is no more pain,
no more sorrow,
where your life will be eternal bliss.
Perhaps, robin redbreasts will be there too,
reminding you and me how much God loves us.
Think about that for a moment.
God loved you so much that He was willing to give up His one and only Son,
Jesus, this man of Galilee —
a man with a heart wider than the Red Sea to die for our sins.
I don’t know about you.
That’s the way I see it anyway.
Because like the robin redbreast who flew to safer ground,
when it couldn’t keep its talons on that tree,
God brought family and friends into my life when I was ready to give up.
They helped me and Karen with groceries when we needed them.
They helped pay for medications and treatments I needed to stay alive that
government disability doesn’t cover.
More important than all of this they loved us through the rough times and still do.
We have known the humiliation many experience going to food banks for
three days of food.
I have been sneered at for trying to exchange the remaining amount of money on
a $10 phone card for a bus token to go back to a dingy basement room when I was on welfare.
I have looked for work thousands of hours only to be told, “No. You’re overqualified.” Either that happened or the decision would come down to me and one other person.
I wouldn’t have hired me because I was way too thin. My skin was pale from the B12 deficiency.
I was only 120 pounds then.
God is healing me in His time and way.
He has turned my night to day.
The struggle isn’t over yet.
Karen and I have mountains to overcome.
But we know we aren’t alone.
We never were.
God was there.
His love was there.
He was always watching over us.
Believing in us.
He still is.
Not once did He give up on us,
though often there were times we gave up on Him.
The Lord brought Karen into my life to
never allow me to be less than God called me to be–
to hear my wounded humanity —
to caress me —
to be a safe harbor to cling to in all this world’s inhumanity.
But our story is only one of many.
Could I ask you to give people with challenges an opportunity?
Let them fly like that robin redbreast through their circumstances.
They want to be taxpayers like you.
They don’t want handouts;
they want a hand up.
Thank you, Father, for using a robin redbreast to inspire this piece.
Dr. Kevin James Osborne B.A., B.Th., M.A., M.Div., , Psy.D., Ph.D. and Th.D. Candidate, O.P.C., D.-C.P.C., D.A.B.T.E, C.M.H.C. is Dean of Psychology and President of Student Affairs at St. James the Elder University. Karen Osborne B.A., D.Sc. in Psychology (honoris causa) C.M.H.C. is the Registrar of St. James the Elder University.