One Sunday morning while travelling to church, Arwen’s path crossed with another that desperately needed help. She noticed a tiny animal in the middle of the road and immediately knew what she had to do. With her love for animals, a degree in zoology and several years of experience at a wildlife rehabilitation center, Burg – the burgundy colored baby rock dove – couldn’t have been in better hands.
Arwen cared for Burg like he was a family pet until he was healthy enough to be on his own. He spent most of his days on the deck of their backyard without venturing very far, and he always returned at night, until one day he didn’t. To her shock, Burg proceeded to return with 30 of his closest dove pals that next winter. This went on for a couple years, leaving for months at a time, until the day Burg somehow found his way back to Arwen when he was very sick and on the verge of death.
In today’s episode, Arwen talks about what she gained from her experience with Burg, and several valuable lessons about helping those who are in need, the circle of life and the importance of believing in miracles – both big and small.
Overcomer Playlist Recommendation
Pearls of Wisdom
- Why we all need to believe in miracles.
- How there is value in caring for the helpless and lives that are smaller than us.
- The benefits from giving yourself to something greater than yourself.
Tweetables“Embrace those areas in your life when you feel most alive.” - @LIFEwithArwen Click To Tweet “You're going to get much more from helping those that can't help themselves than you will ever receive back by serving yourself.” - @LIFEwithArwen Click To Tweet “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino Click To Tweet
- She Handled It, So Can You!: An Inspiring and Empowering Financial Guide for Women
- The Enemies of Excellence: 7 Reasons Why We Sabotage Success
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Connect with Arwen Becker
Arwen Becker: So, the song that I want to suggest that you add to your Overcomer Playlist is by for KING & COUNTRY called Burn The Ships. And I love that term of burn the ships. So, you take a ship to get somewhere and you're committing to staying where you are and figuring it out versus going back to what’s safe or at least what you knew, right? And so, some of the words say:
Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye
Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships
And don't you look back
Whew! Great song.
So, if you want to instantly see my husband get really irritated, just use the proper term when describing city pigeons, rock doves. Okay? So, my background and degree is in zoology, and I ran a wildlife rehabilitation center for a lot of years, and we received a lot of “pigeons”. And pretty much all the time here in Washington State, they were truly rock doves. And so, four months following my divorce, I was 24 years old, I had to move back into my parents, I helped them finish their unfinished basement and get back on my feet. I can recall driving this one Sunday morning, and I was heading to church and I passed under the freeway in order to get on the on-ramp to go to church. And I saw something in the middle of the road and it was about the size of my fist, okay. And so, it kind of looks like a sock but like filled with sand. So, it wasn't just like totally flat on the pavement.
As I inched my car closer to it and I was going to take a left turn to get onto the freeway, I realized it was a baby rock dove. And most people probably wouldn't have noticed but I kind of have eyes for roadkill and maimed and injured animals on the side of the road because I've picked up so many of them over the years. I mean, I've literally found multiple dead opossums that still had live babies clinging to them. Pretty crazy, right? So, I looked behind myself real quick in the rearview mirror. Nobody was behind me. I threw my car and parked. I jumped out. I scooped up the little rock dove into my hands, climbed back into my car and I just wrapped him in a little fold of my T-shirt, and then I turned back around headed back to my parents’ house.
So, fortunately for this little guy, he was already a few weeks old, very healthy, but he was likely pushed off the ledge or kind of fell out of the nest that was on the underside of the freeway, right? So, if it were a perfect world, I would have put him back in the nest, but there was no possible way to do that. So, really one of two things need to happen. He needed to go to Wildlife Rehabilitation Center or be raised by me until they could be released so I chose the latter. And we named him Burg, B-U-R-G, and the reason was because he wasn't that drab gray that so many people think of when they think of “pigeons,” but he was actually this beautiful burgundy.
So, I ended up outfitting one of my old rat cages because, yes, I used to have multiple rats and it was actually quite enormous. It was probably made for ferrets, but I ended up getting it for my rats so they had sweet like mansion houses. And I made him his own little house and then what I did is, I developed these little perches around my bedroom so once he could fly, he could fly to those little perches for some exercise. I remember we used to have so much fun together. I would sit on the floor with a cookie sheet tray with some water in it. He would sit there in the water fluttering his wings and giving himself a bath, and it was just so cute. And then sometimes he would actually kind of run up to me on the floor and I'd sit on the floor, and I'd squeeze like his nose like you would grab a little kid's nose or something like that, and I'd squeeze it with my thumb and pointer finger on kind of the opposite sides of his beak, and I'd shake his little head, and he just loved it. He would kind of run away from me and then he would run back, and he would do these circles and make noises. He'd go, “Roop-poo, roop-poo, roop-poo,” and it was so cute. Oh, my gosh, I loved it, and he would want me to do it again.
Eventually, we got to this point where he would sit on your shoulder and there were times that I remember that Randy would come for a visit, and I have the best picture of Burg sitting on Randy's head while Randy's in a business suit with this look of confusion on his face. It was so funny. And so, of course, Burg continued to grow, and all of his adult feathers started coming in and it became pretty apparent that he needed to start living outside. So, my dad helped me build this little birdhouse, and we kind of fixed it on the outside part of my parents’ balcony so you could see it from the kitchen window. And we would take Burg out there and kind of leave him out there for a few hours with some food and stuff like that and he wouldn't go anywhere, and then we'd bring him back inside the house. For a number of days, this is kind of the way it went. He would never leave and he would just eat the food, and then we'd bring him in at night. Until one day he was gone.
And I remember it was real interesting because that week that he left and never returned, I was debating on whether or not I was going to leave him there because here I had raised this fledgling rock dove, and now I was getting ready to move. And I kind of was trying to figure out, "Well, do I move him with me? Or do I leave them there for my parents to be responsible for him?” Not that I was at all worried that they couldn't be responsible, but I just didn't want to put that obligation on them to have to care for him and stuff like that.
And so, I just kind of feel like God just stepped in and just made the choice for me. And two days before I moved out, he didn't return, until the year to follow. That next winter, my parents called me. Total disbelief, right, because they had three dozen rock doves that arrived at their house to eat being led by Burg. So, Burg goes back into the house expecting there to be food for him and all of his friends, right? And all the other doves were staying at a distance, they wouldn't come, but my parents would put bird seed into the feeder and the birdhouse and everything, and then they eventually come up and start eating. And when I came out there, so of course they called me so I came out there and it was just so marvelous because there Burg flew right up to me and just sat there going, “Proo-poo, proo-poo, proo-poo,” and doing these little circles that he used to do as we would play. This happened multiple times over a two-and-a-half-year time period. He would come back sometimes by himself, sometimes with friends, but was very much in the wild and doing just fine.
That was until the morning that I received a very surprising phone call from my mom and she told me that some neighbor kids had actually come by her house and said, “Hey, there is a pigeon.” It's probably what they called it. “There's a pigeon that's walking around on one of the cars and we're not sure if it's yours.” And it was so neat to me because they had this memory of the time period in which we were trying to release Burg and get him to go outside and go do things and literally all he would do is just kind of fly around to different people in the neighborhood and sit on their cars. He wouldn't do anything else.
And so, my mom went and looked and sure enough, it was Burg and he was really sick. And so, when she called, I immediately rushed over to the house and discovered he was totally emaciated, very sick, and he had trichomoniasis, which is a horrible virus that birds get the causes these really nasty white growths that look like cottage cheese all around the beak and the nose and eventually constrict the throat making it impossible to eat and leading to death. And so, I rushed him to the wildlife vet that I'd worked with for all those years and recall going and picking up the medication and getting some stuff that I can make some food to inject into his crop, so he could at least have some nutrients and things of that nature. And I brought Burg back to my new house with my new husband and eight-year-old Morgan.
I was caring for him, force-feeding him, hoping that I had got him soon enough, and I woke up two days later to find that he had died in his cage, that the sickness was just too much to be able to save him. But the part that was so remarkable is he came back. Because for me, what an extraordinary miracle to not only finding this bird on the freeway ramp moments before he would have been crushed, right? But then two-and-a-half years later, getting to spend the last couple of days with the baby that I had raised was such a tremendous gift.
And the fact that those kids remembered that they remembered and that they took the time to come and find my parents and talk to them, it could have gone so differently. And it was just such a beautiful representation of the circle of life. I wept so much in the days to follow and was almost somewhat surprised it affected me as significantly as it did. But I just think I was more overwhelmed by the fact that I got the opportunity to be there to not only be there in the first days of Burg's life but to also be there when Burg came back to die. He came back to me.
And there was a song that came out during that time. Yes, I'm a little bit sappy. Maybe there are some of you are too especially when it comes to songs and it was Collide by Howie Day. And yes, there is a word in it. It was really a new song. All I could hear in my mind that word was “dove.” Well, it was officially “doubt,” that was the word. Seems really corny but it spoke to me in the absolute biggest way.
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find
You and I collide
Don't stop stop here
I lost my place
I'm close behind
I just love that. Two very different worlds collided at that time and I think that's why it meant so much to me. Yes, it seems really corny.
So, few things I took away from that. Believe in miracles, big and small. That's what Burg was to me. Additionally, take care of the small and the helpless. You know, it's amazing what you receive back in your life when you give to someone or something that you think will never repay you because repayment may come in the form of love everlasting. And finally, given my animal background and degree in zoology, I really feel that God speaks to me through nature. Embrace those areas in your life when you feel most alive and can give yourself to something greater than yourself. Maybe that's serving the homeless or going on a mission trip or working in a wildlife or a cat shelter or building a home for somebody else. You're going to get much more from helping those that can't help themselves than you will ever receive back by serving yourself. Give and it will be given to you.
Arwen Becker: Piece of financial wisdom. Keep an emergency $20 or maybe $40 in your wallet or glove box. I always carry that kind of cash with me and the reason is you never know when you're going to be moved to act and you need a little bit of money. So, my emergency $20 has more often been a way to bless people but there have been times where I desperately needed cash and I had none, and I thank God I had my emergency $20. So, make sure that you keep that on hand. Favorite book is The Enemies of Excellence: 7 Reasons Why We Sabotage Success. And his first name is Greg, his last name is an Italian name and so I'm not even going to attempt to try and pronounce it which is really sad because I took three quarters of Italian in college, and I tried as I just can't do it. And it speaks to how leaders can fail hard, like what are the phases that get people to really, really significant failures, and really how to avoid those or if you have to build yourself back up after you have had one of those major, major failures. And favorite quote, “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars,” Og Mandino.
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