In comparison to conventional news media, so packed with human horror and abuses of all creation, this seems a simple, unimportant story. But in my own personal newscast, young animals have dominated the last week.
A female hummingbird hilariously took up an entire morning for my sister and brother-in-law, Beverly and Bruce. While sitting on their patio, they noticed the little thing sipping nectar from one of the flowers in a hanging pot. But rather than hovering, as mature hummingbirds do with such finesse, it anchored itself to the stem of the flower and remained there, sipping, for hours. When it eventually flew through the open door into the house – but not back out, they called for reinforcements. A friend from a local bird sanctuary came to the confused bird’s rescue, capturing and calming it before releasing it. The little flyer was quite young, she said; still learning hummingbird ways.
In my own yard, Grace Cat came prancing toward me early one morning as I inspected the yard and gardens. Another type of young bird, small and heart-sinkingly limp, dangled from his mouth. (We’ve tried keeping Grace inside, but it’s an impossible task. He wears a bell, but some birds aren’t fast enough for his darting claws.)
When I scolded, Grace dropped the bird. It lay motionless, claws up, a small brown, newly fledged chick with no identifiable markings. A brilliant drop of scarlet blood pooled beside its beak. But it still breathed; rapid, shallow breaths I was certain would stop in a moment.
I picked it up, took it into the house. Wiping the blood, I found no obvious wound. When the bird sat up in my hand, opened its eyes and looked directly at me, I dipped my finger in water and it sipped a few drops. Back outside, I opened my hand only slightly – just enough for it to wiggle out from between my fingers and launch into the air, soaring into the trees without difficulty. “Go well, little one,” I said. “Sorry about the cat.”
Another cat purrs on my lap as I write this. A wee one, only about six weeks. I found this hungry stray, likely feral, surviving alone under a long-parked old bus. I fed it, we made friends, and as they always do, this wanderer has captured my heart. I can’t keep it. Arrangements for a home have already been made. “I’ll likely cry when I drop it off,” I said. The person I spoke with understood. We are kindred spirits, we animal lovers.
As a follower of Jesus, my first love and highest priority belongs to him. But responding to God’s love, so generously extended to the world, includes obeying scripture’s clear mandates – and one of those is to care for creation. I understand that to mean not only the really big, newsworthy acts like saving rainforests and lobbying for better industry standards for meat animals, but assisting, where and whenever possible, the individual critters in crises we encounter along life’s path.
This I gladly do.