Saturday, 26 November 2011
It was a warm sunny day and Father Ignatius was alone in the Parish House. He got out in the gardens at the back of the house and sat by the little shrine to Our Lady set amongst rose bushes some way from the main building.
He took his Rosary from his pocket and started praying. A few minutes later he heard a bird singing in a tree nearby. It wasn’t so much the usual singing one hears, nor the panic cries of a mother when a cat or other predator approaches the nest … this was more like a calling type of singing. It was as if the bird was beckoning someone to do something.
Father Ignatius got up from his chair and walked into the shadows to better see what caused this bird behavior.
There on a tree nearby was a nest. He could see it clearly now, even though it was well camouflaged amongst the branches and leaves. And in the nest there were three birds … quite well-grown by the looks of their size and the fact they were covered in feathers.
The mother bird kept flying towards the nest singing wildly and then moving away from branch to branch … then it got down to the ground … and up to the nest again … singing all the time.
The three little ones looked over the edge of the nest but stayed put.
The priest realized what was going on. The mother was teaching her little ones to leave the nest and fly.
There she was hopping from one branch to another singing away: no doubt encouraging her young to take flight. You could almost hear her speak: “Come on my dears … don’t be afraid … jump!”
They hesitated. Looked around, looked down at the ground which seems miles away, and then politely said to each other: “You first.” “No, no, after you …” “Ladies first, I always say.”
And none of them had the courage to take off, whilst the mother is cheering heartily: “Come on, you know you can do it!”
Eventually one of the little ones gingerly jumped out of the nest, his wings flapping madly, and somehow landed safely to the ground. In time he was followed by his siblings and yet another generation took flight and left the nest.
The priest smiled as he saw all four birds hop from bush to bush, and eventually up the tree branches again, and then fly away confidently.
He sat down again at the feet of the statue and reflected on what he had just witnessed.
“Our first steps with the Lord are no different to these birds I suppose” he thought to himself.
“We question, we analyze, we debate and then … perhaps … in time, we come to believe.
“Eventually, we make that first step in Faith. Believing, without having all the answers. Without knowing everything about the aero-dynamics of flight, or the effects of gravity as we leave the perceived safety of our nest.
“God does not ask us to know everything about Him, how He thinks, how He works, and how He manages the universe.
“All He asks is that we trust Him and believe, without question and without hesitation.
“His Holy Spirit will then lead us through our journey to the Father.”