“An Owl and Freedom” (by Luce Marie Dionne, OSB)

On July 4, 2020, Independence Day, I went for a walk very early in the morning on the grounds behind the Monastery.  I noticed an animal moving around in the net of the soccer field goal.  I came closer and found that it was an owl, looking very helpless and scared, seeing no end to its miserable entanglement (or “not seeing”, as owls are nocturnal animals).  As I tried to see the best way to free it, I could only focus on those big yellow eyes watching my every move as its head turned what seemed to be 360 degrees, the beak crying out in disapproval of my presence, those amazing wings flapping in fear, and  unpredictable claws giving no sign of my invitation for this encounter.  Eventually, I realized that I could not attempt this alone.  So, I ran back to the Monastery, called security, and then met up with Sr. Teri Spinler, who came to help as well. 

The three of us—coming from different working backgrounds—attempted to engage with this animal and to free it.  It took Greg Barcelona, a security guard, to gently secure the animal; Sr. Teri, a nurse, to slowly remove the net from around the owl’s body; and me, an architect, to make sure every perspective was looked at from above as we slowly cut the net in and around this beautiful creature.  Our work was collaboration at its best.  It took a good 45 minutes for us to free the owl from the net.  Once it was free, we all felt an awesome relief to see it fly away with those huge, liberated wings.

This was a special encounter to have happened on the same day we were celebrating our nation’s independence. It brought to mind the energy that it took for our forefathers and mothers to liberate our country from powerful foes and entanglements.  It reminded me of the need to release ourselves today from Covid 19 predicaments, even if we can’t see this virus.  And this wondrous encounter with the trapped owl led me to reflect on the political entanglements that still stop us from collaborating to resolve our nation’s woes, especially our country’s history of racism in all its forms. 

The Rule of St. Benedict teaches us the work we have to do to deliver ourselves from our own entanglements within our minds and hearts.  Today, we do have the tools to liberate ourselves—physically, psychologically and spiritually.  We just have to decide to learn from this wisdom and to do it.  We can come together to live and work in collaboration for freedom.  We all have that choice.

(Feathers from the rescued owl.)

Sister Luce Marie Dionne, OSB, RA, NCARB is a licensed Architect, immersed in Scripture, the Rule of St. Benedict, Ecumenical and Interfaith dialogue, and Sustainability for the Planet.


  1. Erika Eberhardt on July 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Dear Sr. Luce Marie,
    what a beautiful story! And so beautifully written! It brightened my day and gave me hope. Amazing!
    Best wishes

    • Luce Marie Dionne on July 22, 2020 at 1:34 pm

      Erika, Thanks for your comment on the article. Hope all is well with you…and I do think of you often.
      Take Care…please keep in touch.
      S. Luce Marie

  2. Regina Roemhildt on July 20, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    WOW! Thank you so much for sharing this with us and for your insightful thoughts. I miss you all so much!

  3. Gail McGrath on July 20, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    I needed to see this today as I find myself focusing on Covid 19 and all the things I can’t control. I forget to be thankful for the many blessings I have received in the past and notice the good things that do still happen, like your owl rescue. For a few years I volunteered at Hawk Ridge and know there is a particular way to hold the raptors when the teachers were getting to release them. I was wondering just how Greg gently secured the owl to protect himself from those talons! But I’m glad you all worked together; that seems to be what we need to do. Thanks!

  4. Ruth Henriquez Lyon on July 20, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for telling it, and thank you so much for helping the owl.

  5. Lynn Olund on July 20, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks to all of you for pursuing the owl’s freedom! Working together makes all the difference.

  6. Nan Stubenvoll on July 21, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Thank you so much!

  7. Sister Lois Eckes on July 21, 2020 at 11:04 am

    Such a moving story and so beautifully written! I was priviledged to hear about this happening from the rescuers shortly after it happened and so grateful to them for their wise, loving and careful work. How providential that Sister Luce Marie just happened to come by. I think the angels led her there! The work of the “owl rescue team” adds momentum to the suggestion that we rename the 4th of July “Interdependence Day”!

    • Connie Andrews on July 22, 2020 at 10:01 am

      Sister Lois, what a wonderful idea….Interdependence Day! I love it. All of us need all of us to get by!

  8. Sister Beverly Raway on July 21, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    I heard the story first hand, too… and remember that one of the things Sister Luce Marie said she did to calm the owl was to put her jacket over the owl’s eyes. We sometimes need to remember the fear others have and protect or shield them by whatever means we can. I’m especially remembering the song “Shelter Me” by Father Michael Joncas. I looked for an original link… but there are over 50 youtube videos of that song out there now. I would recommend it, if you have not yet heard it.

  9. Michelle E Forsyth on July 21, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Dear Sister!
    What a beautiful teaching story. In my mind, the owl is the symbol for wisdom. In my opinion, yes, wisdom has become ensnared and unable to act. Wisdom has been turned out. And yes, it will take working together and using gentle combined efforts to restore beautiful wisdom to all her great glory! I loved this wonderful story!

  10. Linnea Dietrich on July 22, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Loved the story and the loving application to our condition in the world right now. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  11. Luce Marie Dionne on July 28, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I haven’t been able to respond to each of you, but know of my gratitude for your reply to the Owl article. As we are experiencing the challenges on so many levels at this time, know that I will keep you all in prayer and hope you do the same for me and the community. I know we are strong enough to get through this pandemic and hope that you will all stay well and healthy in the process.
    Take Special care