Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: FAMILY (01/21/16)
TITLE: Outside our Window
By Jennifer Woodley
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Perhaps I should not have encouraged them. Yet their social antics were entertaining and together, as a mass of feathered brown balls on short black legs, they looked irresistible.
‘Stop feeding them!’ my husband protested. But whenever he turned away, I would stealthily tip more seed into their feeder outside our bedroom window. Consequently, by 5.00 am, as the golden sun peeped through the eucalyptus gums outside, we were awoken to the heartiest chatter and babbling. Their family was up and moving, whilst mine tried in vain to slumber.
The juvenile caught my attention. It was fluffier and much smaller than the adults. It rested on the lowest rung of an old ladder propped against the wall, and its harsh cries endlessly demanded food. The parents darted back and forth from the seed tray to their chick, popping single seeds into a widely outstretched tiny, black beak. I learnt as the days slipped by, that they were the ever-attentive parents, teaching, preening and feeding.
But this group was much bigger than three. In fact, there were 12 in the brood, sending a cacophony of noise through our bedroom window: sibling squabbles, parental disagreements, raucous relatives and nosy neighbors, who just had to have their say. No wonder my husband was in an uproar. As a family, they diligently protected their young, their territory and their seed. Occasionally, a thunderous rage would explode between these birds and others that dared intrude into their garden home. Beware other feathered predators: joined as a formidable force, no other bird had a chance of entering their well guarded space.
Yet despite their aggressive behavior, I noticed over time, that they could be peaceful, affectionate and tender towards each other. They would huddle in groups, surrounding and protecting both the frail younger and ragged-looking older birds, and often line up tightly like tiny peas in a pod, sleeping soundly together.
Apostle birds are highly social. They can live in family groups of up to 100 or more in the winter months. (I won’t tell that to my husband). They were named after the 12 Apostles, the first family of believers who became the primary teachers of Jesus’ message.
The apostle bird’s behavior typifies how God designed the family to be. It is strange yet amazing that we can look to the habits of a family of small, brown birds to witness God’s design for the human family.
The apostle bird teaches us that families are to be unified, sticking together in good times or otherwise. Families are to be supportive, caring, loving and sharing. Families are to be a place of nurture, instruction and protection. Families are to offer a safe haven for growth. Families are a place to receive nourishment, both physical and spiritual. Families are to care for each other from childhood all the way to old age – none, despite their age and stage of life, are to be neglected. Families are a place to be yourself, to be real, to feel safe in being who you are. Families are a place to forgive each other, especially in those times when one member is having a bad day and not coping too well with everyone else. Finally, families are to be social entities, warmly inviting in others for food and fellowship – and vigilantly keeping out the enemy, who comes to rob, to steal and to destroy.
So perhaps it has been a good thing to encourage this noisy, boisterous family of apostle birds outside our window. Despite their very early rising, and the good-natured protests from my own family, these birds have been an inspiration, demonstrating the way to live with our immediate family and in a broader sense, how to live together in God’s family.
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