Lessons from Two Friends
Two of my closest friends are rather short compared to me. I am 1.7 metres tall, and they are 0.17 metres in height! However, though they may be somewhat “height challenged”, they stand tall in my eyes and are capable of soaring to great heights.
I must apologise for not being able to introduce them to you by name. Only another mynah bird can reproduce the sounds by which they call each other, and these sounds can’t be put down in human script or on musical scores. I am ashamed to say that I can’t even tell the two birds apart. Nor can I tell which one is male and which one is female. But I do know that one is male and the other female, for earlier this year they built a nest, and out hatched little Junior. They later introduced ‘him-her’, or, ‘it’ to me.
In spite of seeing the birds practically every day, I am still unable to distinguish one from the other. And when ten or twenty mynahs drop in for a sing-along, forget about spotting the two in that crowd. They all look exactly alike: same uniform, same headgear, same everything! So I am totally and completely amazed that God can distinguish every single mynah from the billions of mynahs in this world!
How do I know this? Well, didn’t Jesus say, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” (Matt. 10:29)? God knows every bird, and He knows every human being by name. How amazingly and mind-bogglingly great God is! Sometimes we forget this.
My two mynah friends come to me whenever I whistle the opening bar of a particular Tijuana Brass Band piece of music. They come swooping in from wherever they were and perch on the wooden fence just outside my dining room window. They know that after I talk to them for a bit I would toss a handful of bread crumbs to them, with a stirring cry of ‘Hooplux!” Please don’t ask me what that means; I just like the sound of it. And so do my iddy-birdy friends, for they do a song-and-dance routine, singing what sounds like the mynah version of “Hooplux!”
After eating, they sit on the fence in a most relaxed way, facing me, and hang out with me. When I say a few words or whistle they would reply with friendly chirps, whistles, warbles and wondrous sounds the like of which I had never heard from mynahs. And so the “conversation” goes. They have a lot to say to me, perhaps out of gratitude or a feeling of relationship?
This set me thinking. After God feeds us, do we hang around to thank Him and make happy noises to Him? Do we remain at the dining table a while, feeling gratitude and appreciation for the good food God provided, and savouring our relationship with Him? What a shaming lesson the two birds have taught me!
One morning several weeks ago, when I was reading the newspapers after breakfast, the two mynahs suddenly flew back, looked directly at me, and gave loud rasping cries of warning, “K-r-r-i-i-e-ek!” In the past such cries had warned of monitor lizards, snakes or squirrels skulking in the vicinity. This time I saw no such creature on the ground. But lifting my eyes, I saw white clouds of pesticide fog rolling down the slope from the bungalow at the top. As soon as I started to close my windows, the birds flew swiftly away in the opposite direction to the toxic fog. Since then, the two birds have come to warn me whenever such a fog came my way.
At the risk of sounding anthropomorphic and attributing human feelings to animals, I would say that the birds were deliberately warning me out of gratitude or a feeling of relationship. They may take back my Master’s degree in Zoology for this heretical statement, but I can’t help feeling that the birds were rendering me grateful service.
If mynahs can perform a service to me after my loving care for them, how much more should we try to serve our loving and caring Father in Heaven? A few years ago I would have called someone ungrateful to God a birdbrain, but now I wonder: Would that be insulting to birds?