I have an image burned indelibly into my memory. I see eleven small, black-and-white bodies moving in unison out to sea. They are moving away from a line of smiling humans holding empty boxes. On their left, another group of smiling humans, some of them holding cameras, watches them go. There is much joy in the watching, but also much sadness, for there is a lingering memory of many other feathered beings whose lives ended before they were able to make this journey home. Today, it is much easier not to dwell in that place of sadness.
The eleven swimming birds disappearing into the distance represented more than simply a handful of Common Murres returned to the wild. They were a testament to the willingness of a large group of people to sacrifice their time, money, sleep and comfort to help other living creatures that were in distress. They were living illustrations of the ability of humans to extend their compassion beyond themselves, beyond their acquaintances and even beyond their own species. At a time when compassion seems increasingly hard to come by, the selfless actions performed by so many people in assisting these birds provide proof that compassion is still alive and well in our world.