I was assisting a student in a year 4 class when one of the boys noticed a bird outside the glass door. “It’s just sitting on the floor; it can’t fly,” he said. A few children went out on the verandah to investigate and while the glass door was opened, the bird flew into the room. It crashed into a window, fell to the bench-top and flew off again. Girls squealed and boys cried out in delight. A bird flying around the class room was way more exciting than school work.
“Just calm down and sit back in your seats,” the teacher advised. “The bird is scared; leave it alone.”
It was a blue budgerigar, a common old budgie. While it is native to Australia, we don’t see any flocks of wild ones flying around Stanthorpe. A student ran down the verandah to another class that coincidentally, contained an unused bird cage.
Mr S found a cloth and captured the creature, depositing it safely in the cage. The budgie climbed on the metal bars and examined its new surroundings. Mr S had a closer look and gave smoochy kisses through the wire. “You’re not a wild bird are you? You’re someone’s pet.”
“Perhaps we should put a ‘found’ announcement on the noticeboard near the street,” I suggested.
“Maybe…” Mr S pondered, as he eyed the budgie.
I left the class room with the hope that somehow the budgie would be returned to his home.
A few days later I was in the paddock with my hubby, ready to pick some cabbages and leeks for the markets. A bird lay dead on the ground – an olive-backed oriole. We were saddened to see the oriole as they are a pretty tree-dwelling bird that isn’t a pest in the same manner of cockatoos or ducks. As I squatted over the oriole I noticed something disconcerting.
“Hey Bruce,” I called out. “This bird is someone’s friend – it has leg bands.”
Bruce came near and had a look. Three pairs of different coloured plastic bands adorned the legs. One silver band gave a clue to its origin - a wildlife society in Sydney, with a postal address. What do you write, in a situation like this? Sorry, we have found the bird you have been monitoring for years. It’s dead.
Once again, I was struck with the thought of a bird being missed.
I’d seen two birds, initially thought to be wild and belonging to no-one. Each demonstrated that they weren’t, in fact. Someone knew about them. Probably someone cared about them. What did that say about my assumptions – did it matter only if they fit the mold of a domesticated pet?
Or perhaps, there was something deeper to learn: regardless of their appearance or way others view them, God has his hand over all his creatures.
There are people around us that might not appear to be likely candidates for God’s kingdom. Perhaps we view them as being too ‘wild’ or unconventional. They don’t hang around in the accepted Christian circles, or do things as part of the wider church community. Perhaps they look like rebels, trying to stretch their wings in a bid for freedom.
But God sees them… He knows their hearts and although they may seem like they are straying far from home, He will bring them back.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16 (NIV)