When Sabrina and I first began rehabbing as a team nearly twenty years ago, any reasonable person, asked the question: Will Lucky or Sabrina be the most competent at diagnostics and healing?

The logical answer was Lucky; at that time, I’d been a physician for over thirty years. But that answer omits the wildcard of God-given intuition to heal wildlife; Sabrina has that gift, I do not. She is a legend among rehabbers because she has made the choice to fully exploit that inheritance with study, application, and long hours practicing and learning her craft. Such is her talent, that there are several species of birds that rehabbers have sent to her since they themselves had little success healing these species; Sabrina does.

Rehabbing is expensive both in money and time. In terms of time, consider this: each day, baby birds must be fed every twenty minutes, twelve hours a day. A trip to Kroger, just down the road becomes a luxury. Phone calls? In the beginning, Sabrina averaged 40+ per day. [That’s just incoming; it doesn’t count the outgoing calls to other rehabbers, Animal Control, or return phone calls.] Then there’s the laundry: two loads each day from the animals alone. Between Sabrina and I, and our few volunteers, we now intake two thirds as many animals/birds as the Wildlife Center of Virginia, a fully-staffed agency and a nationally known wildlife hospital.

In the midst of all this, three phenomena are emerging:

1- The amazement and respect with which I watch Sabrina refine her art and intuition. For instance, it was she who began to question time-honored diets in young birds as being hurtful, sometimes fatal; diets which had been the accepted traditions of rehabbers for years. She made changes, and her ‘save rate’ soared.

2- Sabrina has a license to teach, so 14-20 times a year, she would take our ‘education birds’ – a hawk and owl rescued but too old or infirm to be released, they are unable to either hunt or evade. She carried those birds to schools, civic clubs and the like. She takes their ‘castings’ with her. Raptors – or meat-eating birds – ingest a meal, it sits in their stomach a while, then they regurgitate the indigestible parts in an egg-shaped mass. The children, some of whom have to adjust to an understandable repugnance, dissect these castings and find tiny bones, teeth, and so on. The letters of thanks she receives from the kids suggest a genuine fascination.

[Not long ago, a teacher who had invited Sabrina to do a presentation to her class a year ago, called Sabrina requesting another visit. The teacher called while standing in front of her class. When Sabrina assented, the teacher, in an aside to her students, said, “She’s coming back!” Sabrina said the students erupted in cheers so enthusiastically, she could easily hear it over the phone.]

Another phenomenon is this: what are the future effects of her instruction, how will the kids be so shaped in years to come? Chances are, we’ll never know. But it makes you wonder, will this experience usher them towards a life of veterinary medicine or vet-tech, to human medicine, or just an abiding love of wildlife, ecology or the environment?

3- Perhaps the most amazing of all, in the last two years, we have had young volunteers who have the gift, the instinct Sabrina has. Their gift is ‘in the raw’, so to speak, and wants shaping and direction. Sabrina is well acquainted with folks who volunteer, thinking this is, for them, a passion; it turns out to be mere novelty, or the desire for ‘bragging rights’ [I work with wildlife!], and they are soon gone. But Sabrina spends time teaching them all.

But, these special volunteers bring their instincts to Sabrina, and she becomes mentor to eager, motivated students.

It is my belief that the Creator works in obscurity – or anonymity – all around us. It is said no two snowflakes are the same, this since the beginning of time. We are told not only are no two zebras the same, but no two sides of a zebra is the same! Ditto night skies, daylight skies, and who knows how many other examples.

I know such examples are there for me and anyone else who chooses to partake in this pageantry; rewarding with beauty any eye or spirit or heart that seeks it. I see such splendid pictures of earth e-mailed me from time to time. One must ask: if God expends this much glory on Earth, what must Heaven be like?

I have long felt each of us is sent to Earth for a purpose, and that the ultimate quest – as well as the greatest blessing – is to discover that purpose; if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. It is the feeling – the joy – which accompanies passion that lets us know our search has been successful: go to bed thinking about it, dream about it, wake up in the morning eager to get back to it, whatever the passion might be.

My Sabrina is about her ultimate business. She gives her blessing, her gift, substance by working at it each day. And thus, when her time comes, she will repay her ‘ten talents’, with a great deal of interest …

Originally published on Roanoke Star‘s website.