I’ve been struggling to write some fresh perspective on pro bono. The stories about how pro bono service is positive and life-changing for both the volunteer and the client never fail to move me. But I usually remain anxious.
“Bird without a nest” is a statement of my anxiety.
I usually start my writing process with some kernel of truth, and roll it around in words and phrases, kind of like an odd linguistic breading that coats a hidden tasty morsel. Or so I plan.
“Bird without a nest” popped into my head last May in drowsy moments of contemplation. I immediately captured the syllables and ushered them into a title field for a justice blog post and spent a late night hour or so earnestly believing I could craft a compelling, if not relevant and interesting, blog article around such a potent title. I surrendered and saved the post as a draft. Almost six months later I return to the orphaned article.
For me, upon reflection I can now say the concept of a “bird without a nest” conjures up an immediacy, a lack of home, an existence without a context. Pro bono is the bird without a nest, an itinerant entity in search of welcome and shelter.
When I was 10 years old, a repairmen appeared at our house to fix the water heater. The coldish, rainy April morning unfolded as I played outside between bouts of mist. Along the sidewalk that lead to our back porch I stopped in my play to focus on a tiny, near-featherless bird, so small and shiny, and I imagined rightly that it was a newborn. It glistened wet and it wobbled, its head so large for its tiny body. I felt a mixture of fear and pity. The repairman appeared along beside me, removed a pair of pliers from his belt, knelt and crushed the bird’s head. Then he wiped the pliers in the damp grass along the sidewalk and headed to his truck.