What I Learned From My Parrots
We have a parrot of our own (his name is Scooby because he thinks he's a dog. Really) but we also take in sick, abused, or insane parrots, fix them up, work with them, and then find them homes. All that can take a year or more, but we have time and they are interesting so it's all right. The story of how we got into all of this is too long and, sadly, not terribly interesting, so I won't go into that. What I will take a moment to tell you is what my parrots tell me about life and God.
1. Greet the Day With Joy: I don't do this. I am not a morning person. If allowed, I would get up at the crack of noon every day. As it is, I pull my bones out of bed, calling upon the Lord, and sometimes, while attempting to stand, fail to nail the dismount. It isn't something you want to visualize. Mornings are just too early, too cold, and too dark for me. Parrots, however, are hardwired by God to greet every day with absolute joy and enthusiasm. Somewhere around seven they all begin to sing, laugh, chortle, scream, and whistle to greet the day. It is loud and it lasts about an hour until they see that they really do get to live in this wonderfully marvelous incredible day and their delight turns to curiosity about what it might hold.
2. Don't Lose Your Sense of Wonder: Birds are busy. They work hard on finding new ways to play with their toys, new ways to turn something entirely inappropriate (drapes, books, phones, small children) into a toy, or in walking around laughing and cooing at everything they see. If you are cooking something new they want to taste it. If you are wearing something new they want to examine it. When we turn on the TV four of the birds will run over to watch -- especially football. Sometimes they go to sleep, hanging sideways on the bars of their cages, while watching. They aren't bored. They see something to rejoice about every day. The ordinary thrills them.
3. Rest Time is Good. The birds take a nap every day. Somewhere in mid-afternoon a little birdie bell goes off in their heads and, no matter where they are in the house, they will climb up, perch on something, and go to sleep. Winston Churchill once said he accomplished so much in his life due, in part, to his insistence on the afternoon nap. Total disclosure here: the birds didn't have to teach me this. Resting is my spiritual gift.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Sing Your Song: Each bird has their own repertoire of songs, squawks, squeaks, and whistles. They aren't shy in trying out new words or new sounds and, in fact, can be overheard trying out new ones most days. It doesn't matter what it sounds like to anyone else: they like it, so they sing it. I own several guitars, ukuleles, dulcimers, banjos, etc. and play with a lot more enthusiasm than talent, but that's okay: my parrots taught me it's the joy in the playing, not the talent, that matters.
5. Color and Size Mean Nothing: The birds come in an astonishing variety of colors and sizes but they get along just fine (usually). They put no meaning on color and don't rank each other by size. Sometimes a parakeet will march over and bawl out a macaw that is sixty times his size. Some parrots were disturbed or ill fed and pulled out their feathers, looking like a plucked chicken, but they still are proud little guys.
6. Love is a Good Thing: They don't all love the same, but they all want to love you some during the day. One likes to lean against you and purr while another wants to sing to you, but doesn't like being touched. Each finds a way to show love and to request love in return -- every single day.
It interests me that when God says he owns the cattle, He thens says he "knows" the birds. He tells us that a sparrow will not fall to earth without Him; i.e. will not die alone. While we are worth more than sparrows, there seems to be a special relationship between the Father and His birds. Maybe if I watch them enough, I can learn more about Him. (see Romans 1 for further instructions)