There is a sanderling I have been watching every time I visit a particular beach in Western Florida. If you know sanderlings, you know these diminutive birds scurry along the beach, teasing tiny shells open for their food. How do you ever pick out one sanderling from a flock of them working the clam flats?
I first noticed this one sanderling because it stood out from the rest: one of its prey was securely locked over one foot. At first, I was distressed for the sanderling, but as I watched, I realized the sanderling itself did not appear distressed. It continued to feed, fly, and participate in the life of its flock, surely using up more energy to move around. But as the days went by, it became more and more adept to dancing around with one foot encased in a shell.
Later on, the front of the foot became exposed when part of the shell fell off. The sanderling continued to participate in its daily routine. Then the back of the shell fell off. And then, on my next visit, the sanderling had only one leg. The sanderling was even more part of its flock, thick in the middle of them, dancing around on one foot -- and doing so beautifully.
There is a Zimbabwean saying, "If you can walk you can dance; if you can talk you can sing." Knowing a great many wonderful dancers who cannot walk and observing infants moving their limbs in time to music, and some beautiful singers without sound, I extend that saying to "If you are born, you can dance; if you breathe, you can sing."
How do we live in the sanderling community, where birds of a feather have flocked together -- including and dancing with their neighbor on one foot?
How much of life can we dance beautifully with what we have -- both gifts and challenges?
When you're tired from your challenges, remember the persistent sanderling.
When you're blessed with abundance, remember the sanderling flock.
Life's a beach, and our dance can make it even more beautiful.