After flying thousands of kilometers to Prasanthi Nilayam, you try to learn something from everything you see there, especially in the courtyard of the temple. One morning during bhajan a crow continued to crouch on the concrete in front of us, long after the rest of his flock had come and gone. He sat and sat, while we sang and sang. You could tell he wanted to take off, but could not pick up the necessary wing power.
After sometime he gave a loud "Cawl" which set the other crows in motion. They deserted their posts on temple roof, palms and neem tree, and came whirling down and away again, as if to scoop up their mate. It looked very much as if he had been given the classic crow summons, "Come, fly!"
When he did not take to the air himself, some of the flock swooped down again and circled in a puzzled way. Then, one by one, they returned to their perches high above the courtyard, where they hopped uneasily to and fro, apparently unsure what was expected of them. Meanwhile, as if glued to the concrete, the old crow roosted helplessly, his beak opening and closing without a sound.
Many suspenseful moments later, he called again, very feebly. This time, only one crow responded, and to some purpose. He took up a challenging stance facing the groundling and set about dealing with the problem. His method was drastic and, eventually, effective.
Gentleness would not have worked. The newcomer began a mock attack, peeking at the old one, who tried to defend himself. It looked like a cruel kind of rescue, but no one watching could doubt that a rescue it was.
The "rescuer" had to intensify his offensive before the grounded crow was driven to take wing. Hurling himself desperately aloft, he dived under the nearest sunshade canopy, passing over the heads of the ladies as he tried to clear the outside wall, and failed. Instead, he blundered heavily into the top of the wall and flopped back into someone's lap. After a short but furious flurry of feather and saris, he found himself back in the courtyard, where his rescuer was still waiting and watching.
Once again the mock attack was renewed, with such vigour that the old crow rose into the air almost immediately, and soared elegantly under the roof and over the wall.
Mission accomplished, the rescuer flew away in turn, leaving us humans to interpret at our leisure what had happened. This example of crow seva—in which some of us had briefly taken an active part—showed one of those predicaments where waiting passively for a "miracle" is not enough. So you cry for help. Having done so, you may have to wait until the right kind of helper appears, one who understands what you need, perhaps better than you do yourself. A true helper will stay and persist until a solution is found; both of you have a part to play in it.
One of the teachings that first attracted me to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was that the good is not always the pleasant. We know life is happiest when we are full of bliss, but also that sometimes life has to peck at us with apparent cruelty before we are impelled to summon up strength that we did not know we had in us. Then we soar over what seemed like insurmountable obstacles. Out of helplessness comes new power, and out of pain new freedom.