Matthew 6:26 ŌLook at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?Ķ
Gatsby, my cat, has obviously been up nights reading the Gospel of Matthew. He obeyed the command to look at the birds of the air and made special note that, thanks to GodÕs provision, they were well fed. Reading further that he was of more value than they, Gatsby made the quick calculation that no one would mind if he had one of them for lunch. And so it was that I heard a great squawking and saw a tern in distress, flat against the storm door with the cat holding its outstretched wing to the ground with a paw.
I know all about the food chain, but I still object to watching it in action. Since I couldnÕt open that door without further injury to the bird, I ran out the other door, scooped up the cat to deposit him indoors, and then tried to figure out what to do. To make a long story a bit shorter, after watching the tern for some time in the yard, it was evident that although I couldnÕt see any outward wounds, the bird could neither fly nor walk, although it hobbled a bit from time to time. With the sun setting he would surely be eaten by something else there on the ground, so I got him in a towel-lined box and put him on the deck. After several calls to wildlife rehab people, I got some instructions on getting him set up for the night until I could get him to a place that could properly care for him.
Well, sadly, he didnÕt make it. He was asleep and breathing when I got up this morning and checked on him, but half an hour later he was gone. I had a little funeral for him and buried him down by the water his little webbed feet loved.
Looking over his body more carefully in death, I still could not see puncture wounds of any kind, although it did seem like he probably had both a broken leg and a broken wing. But what I ended up reflecting on in these hours since were the words of one of the bird rehab specialists, who noted that birds can die of stress. Certainly this poor bird had that, and part of my distress was knowing that my rescue efforts contributed to that. Although I dutifully explained everything I was doing to the tern, he seems to have slept through English class and didnÕt understand a word. Despite all my reassurances, he seemed to think I was a threat when I picked him up to put him in the box, added the heating pad and water to his box, etc. I canÕt say for sure that it was stress that killed him, but I do know that at least some of the stress he experienced was unnecessary. If he had known to trust me, at least he could have been spared that.
I realized I do that way too often. Despite all the places in the Bible that implore me to trust God, when IÕm wounded and life is uncertain, I lose the ability to discern who God has sent to help me and who is a cat waiting to pounce on my weakness. At those time everything hurts, and since sometimes getting to safety involves more pain than staying put, if I just use my own sense of comfort to guide me, IÕm quite likely to go wrong. ThatÕs why they call it faith. WeÕre just not sure and have to find it within ourselves to lay back and trust that God is at work for our good. Of course we can choose to worry about it instead. But the stress could kill us.
God of the wounded, help us find the faith we need to trust. Amen.
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