Monday, May 18, 2015

And If That Mockingbird Won't Sing

And If That Mockingbird Won’t Sing

Part 1:

Our cat has been leaving us far too many presents this spring.

Yesterday my husband was downstairs before me. When I joined him, he told me that he wished he’d had his camera. Two mockingbirds were taunting our cat incessantly. He hadn’t fed the cat yet, so I fed her. Since he plays the organ at church, he left for church before my daughter and me as well.

We were running a bit late, but I thought that we’d make it in time for Sacrament Meeting. When we got in the car though, we saw the mockingbirds pecking at our cat who was just hanging out on the front fence. I decided to get her off the fence, so I went in the house and opened the back door, and she immediately ran to me.

I grabbed some treats to put in her food dish. And that is when I noticed that there were two baby mockingbirds just outside the back door. I’d missed them before, so I don’t know if they were both there or only one of them. Now that would explain the mockingbirds’ behavior. Oh, I was so sad.

I went back to the car and told Christine that we were already too late. I told her that there were two baby mockingbirds outside the back door, and that one of them was still alive. At that point, I knew that we needed to go see how that mockingbird faired and if there was something we could do. If there are hurt animals, Christine will help them.

I put the cat in the bathroom and buried the dead little bird. I got Christine a pair of garden gloves to use in attending to the live bird, but she already had it in her hands when I approached her with them. So I found a pot that had soil in it, laid the gloves on it, making a bed for the wee bird.

Although the bird was scratched in a few places, it is a fighter. It opened its big yellow beak (big in comparison to its small body), searching for free food. We gave it a couple of drops of water. Christine looked in the bramble bush where we thought the nest might be (because the birds seemed to be guarding it), but we couldn’t see anything.

With the cat out of the way, we found a shaded spot next to the bush to put the flower pot, and we left for church. We missed the opening, the sustainings, and even the sacrament; but, at least momentarily, we saved a life. “Is it lawful to save a life on the Sabbath day?”

Upon returning from church, we made it our priority to attend to the baby bird. Still alive. Still wanting food. I tried to grind up some bird seed in water. Not effective. So I also added some whey protein and ground again, and then I strained out the bird seed, just leaving the liquid. The bird took a couple of drops of that.

Bob put the flower pot on one of the pillars to our patio cover, out of the cat’s reach. Christine was still searching for its nest, and not finding it, she was searching for a better location. She didn’t want the bird to survive, only to fall directly into the cat’s mouth as a fledgling.

Before checking on the cat and allowing her back outside, we made a nest out of an Easter basket. Christine had researched what to feed the bird, and I knew it needed protein. She found it should be given egg and cat food. I added an egg to the whey mixture and gave the bird another couple of drops. (It pooped.) We added shredded paper to the basket and weaved yarn into it so that it could be attached to the tree. After adding some grass to the new basket, and positioning it between two branches, we tied it securely with the yarn. Then Christine gently transferred the baby bird to its new nest.

Christine did not want me to check on the bird again, but she continued to search for a nest. An hour or so later, I pulled over the step ladder and checked on the bird. It was still opening wide its mouth and I gave it another drop or two. Mouth closed. I went back inside.

After another hour or so, Christine ran into the house excitedly. She had pinpointed where the nest was in the bramble bush. She had been watching the parent birds and allowed them to lead her to the nest. So then we worked to initiate the transfer. We had to cut the basket out of the tree. By this time the bird wasn’t very active. I think more than anything, it was getting later in the day and the bird was cold. Christine returned her (I keep wanted to write her, and not it, so this time I did) to her nest alongside the two other babies already there. (It had been a typical brood with four babies.)

All evening the mockingbirds still attacked the cat. By bedtime we did not know where she had gone. But the birds were quiet as well, so we had to hope that all were safe for the night.

This morning I was happy not to find any present at the back door. It’s always wonderful to not start out the day with mortification. We worked hard to give that baby a fighting chance. It’s up to the parents and nature now. We really don’t know if it’s maimed and can’t survive or of its parents will reject it. But her wings and legs seemed functional from what we could observe when she was stretching for food.

As soon as I fed the cat this morning, a mockingbird was pecking at her, not allowing her to eat. Hopefully, their revenge won’t bring about their demise; and, hopefully, this little bird family will make it through the season. For now the cat is in the bathroom and would rather be outside.

Part 2:

Lessons in Nature:

Babies come to earth with a desire to live. Parents give and protect life. Predators take life. Parents instinctively defend their families, even at peril to themselves. Parenthood is never about personal convenience.

Sometimes it appears that there is more fierce loyalty in the animal kingdom than among humans. These birds devote their entire lives to nest building, having broods, sustaining life, and protecting their young.

With the very tenderness of the human heart, we can all feel sympathy for the little baby mockingbird. I do not know many who would not hope for the survival of a baby bird and who would not feel saddened to see a bird that had been hurt by the claws of a cat. Yet how many human babies have been aborted? And how many human babies have suffered great atrocities at the hands of their own parents and physician, both of which by very definition should be offering them life and protecting their lives at all costs? And how much greater is a human’s life in the eyes of our Lord?

Let’s allow the babies to have a voice and to hear the mockingbirds sing.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Not Everything is a Celebration!

Not Everything is a Celebration!

I am increasingly amazed and disturbed by the many people who want to celebrate their weaknesses as successes and encourage others to do so as well. Certainly, we have diverse characteristics and challenges. While we should be able to recognize the accomplishments of others and of ourselves, we should also be able to distinguish when we fall short. It is important to own our weaknesses as weaknesses, instead of boasting that they make us unique; this, in turn, can allow us the ability to recognize our need for the Lord’s help so that we can progress.

No, I am not going to provide a list of examples here; because, I do not want to feel the unleashed backlash from those who would say that I’m judgmental and that I am without feeling. Neither of these things would be true. But I believe that I am discerning in this matter, which is part of practicing good judgment. And as far as feeling, I believe that we all must be open to feeling some shame, so that we can be humble enough to rely on the Lord, who will then help us on our journey to higher ground.

All of us fall short of the glory of God (see Romas 3:23). No matter what our individual trials are, God wants us to measure up, trust in Him, and meet His expectations. Why? Because He is our loving Parent, and His paramount desire is for our happiness and joy and safety (see Moses 1:39). He is the Protectant of our eternal welfare. But even He cannot ensure our safety and deliverance from sin and our own carnal nature, if we abandon His design and ignore His commandments, seeking to pacify ourselves in our own shortcomings, while celebrating them as special needs.

We can make of our lives what we will at every turn with the help of the Holy Spirit and because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But we need to acknowledge our dependence on the Lord; and when we fall, seek His help to lift us up again.

In today’s world, we see those who have similar challenges banding together and exercising pride in their togetherness of shared weaknesses. Instead of feeling some shame or uncertainty, which could cause them the necessary humility to initiate change, they believe that their togetherness will make them strong enough to offer endorsement to their struggle; as if their personal struggle is of more value than they are themselves.

But in doing so, they are claiming superiority of their need for sin or someone else’s need to sin. It seems that self-justification is highly prized, while self-evaluation is considered harmful. In the long run, the opposite is most definitely true; and, if we are honest, it is so even in the present. Change is not easy. But it is required if we want to follow Jesus.

There is purpose in the challenges that we face. The Lord has declared for what reason we have been given challenges. While the world would think that our challenges represent part of our eternal nature, it is not so. God wants better for us, and He has provided the way in His Son Jesus Christ.

Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet was concerned about his weakness in writing. He thought that we Gentiles would mock his writings because of His weakness (see Ether 12:23).

Here is the Lord’s response (found in Ether 12:26-27):

26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying:

Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

The issue of too much celebration is really an issue of too much pride. If we acknowledge our weaknesses and seek the Lord’s help in humility, He will bless us to overcome through Him and be made stronger to combat our challenges in His strength. Of necessity, this should promote more humility in our hearts, not pride, so that we can continue to approach Him and rely on Him for deliverance.

Sometimes we spend so much time turning to support groups that we forget to turn to the Lord. 

I feel like as a people we think that we have come so far, that we are much more enlightened than those of past generations and dispensations; but, I believe that Samuel the Lamanite is talking to us, as well as to the people of Nephi, when he said in Helaman 13:25-28:

25 And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.

26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.

27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.

Can you see that when we spend our efforts being sympathetic to sin instead of sympathetic to the sinner that we are acting in opposition to the prophets of God? Can you see that when we engage in media expressions of pride that we our offering an endorsement to the activity and not to our individual brothers and sisters?

Can you see from these verses that if we encourage pride in sin that we are setting ourselves up as false prophets and helping the devil in his devices to destroy the rightful destiny of the children of God? I believe this is so even if our desired goal is to gain recognition of being empathetic instead of monetary gain. There are better ways to show our love and concern for each other than to endorse sin. I do not want to be accountable of so great a calamity. I would rather face the anger of the unjustified, prideful masses than face the righteous indignation of the wrath of God.

Our celebration should be in the Lord’s strength, not in our personal weaknesses. He who was tempted beyond measure, yet gave the devil no heed; He who overcame on our behalf, so that He can lift us up and help us overcome our personal struggles with sin; He who offered us life, and that more abundantly, if we turn to Him, trust in Him, love Him, and show that love by keeping His commandment; it is He whom we should celebrate.

We should celebrate Jesus. And in celebration of Jesus’s glorious accomplishment in overcoming sin, we can again celebrate when He helps us on our journey in overcoming our personal sins one step at a time and one day at a time. The celebration must never be in our own weaknesses, but in the Lord’s strength.