"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matthew 10:29
Last night was one of those defining parental moments for me. A bird fell from the nest still inside its egg and began to hatch. There were thirteen children standing over it in amazement and asking with eyes wide open, "What do we do now?"
Some began digging for worms. Some came up with boxes lined with blankets. Some brought out a desk lamp hoping to provide warmth. One even found an abandoned nest. The little robin was hatched into this world looking naked and helpless. It began to open its mouth for food.
My neighbor, Sandy, called a Wildlife rescue number to get some instructions about what to do. The policy is not to give instructions regarding protected animals, but to provide a certified rescuer to house and raise the bird for release instead.
At this point, Sandy and I exchanged glances as the children looked on. We were at a parental crossroads here. We both know that birds fall from trees everyday and do not survive. This is the way of life and there was a lesson to be learned here. We also knew that this was an opportunity to step up and take responsibility for a need. The baby bird could do nothing to help itself, but there was something that we could do.
It was late. The kids were dirty. Both of our husbands were gone. Normal bedtime was past. And the eyes were still on us. But which was the more important lesson to be learned on this night?
Sandy carefully warmed and packaged the bird for travel and provided the directions. I drove with children to the animal rescue house. The kids were completely silent in the car not wanting the small creature to be frightened. My aspiring vet, Lydia, was in front seat holding the container mouthing the words, "I love you, Mommy. Thank you SO MUCH."
On the way home we had more of a chance to talk. We do not have pets in our home so we don't really discuss animals often. What do I want my children to understand about this night? This is what we discussed:
1) God provides us opportunities to serve others in need. God knew that the egg would fall and He knew that we would find it. He provides us opportunities to help and when we can, we should.
2) Animals die everyday. Birds fall from trees, dogs get hit by cars, cats get leukemia and they all die. That is sad, but it is to expected.
3) Animals do not have souls. God made them wonderfully, but they do not go to heaven. They are temporal, made for this world. God has given us dominion over them and a responsibility to care for them. People are made in God's image and always more important than animals.
4) No life, no matter how small, is insignificant.
5) What if there was no way for us to help the bird? What then? It would be kind and right to let the bird die with respect.
I'm realizing that my children will not likely grow up in a society that protects or values the cause of the helpless and dying. It may be that this is not just an underlying mentality, but actually legislated in the near future. I pray that is not so. There are not many leaders or role models who step up and go the extra mile for the cause of the oppressed. When I heard of this, I was shocked and sickened.
We are raising future leaders and we must be their role models. So while they are watching with wide open eyes and asking, "What do we do now?" we must respond.
Will the baby robin survive? God only knows. Hopefully we will return to the house and see it released in six weeks or so. Regardless, I pray that this lesson survives in the hearts and minds of our children.