Parental Chirps

By Marcy Barthelette

  Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 NIV

It was Sunday, July 3rd, we were halfway through the Independence Day weekend and the thermometer was climbing. After nearly a week of blessedly cooler weather, summer was returning with a vengeance. Ken loves it hot so he was relaxing on our screen porch when he spied an adult robin flying in and out of our crawl space access well. His assumption that a baby must have managed to get itself into trouble was confirmed as he looked down into the face of the human equivalent of perhaps a pre-teen. All at once, the parent swooped down, squawking, and flapping its wings against Ken’s head and he decided it would be best to keep an eye on this little drama from a distance. Mama finally settled down and resumed her watchful vigil and her feeding routine. We retired for the night with junior still in his predicament.

Monday morning I went into the backyard and was greeted by frightened chirps from our trees. It was then that I remembered the baby bird and went cautiously to check. Sure enough, it was still there and the parents were warning it to keep still and lay low, at the same time warning me to leave. I steered clear of the access well and went about my watering. Soon the adults calmed and from the other end of the yard, I saw one of them hopping discreetly toward the access well with a mouth full of some tempting morsel. It stopped every two or three hops to look around and be sure the coast was clear. It made one last hop to the rim of the access, then swooped down to deliver breakfast and was out in a flash as if it had never been there. Amazing and stealthy creatures, these birds.

Tuesday morning, day three of this vigil, I crept to the access well and looked inside. My glance was met by a tiny beak and two imploring little eyes, seemingly saying, “You aren’t my mom and where is my breakfast?” A little later, Ken was thinking of a way to get the bird out without causing injury or undue stress and he decided that if he put something in the well that was a height the youngster could jump to, perhaps it could make its way out. Of course, the usual warning chirps ensued, but this time he was prepared wearing a wide-brimmed hat. He was able to install a shoebox in the well hoping the little guy’s tiny talons could penetrate the cardboard enough to gain a foothold. It worked! By evening, the youngster was out and perched on the downspout extender, still waiting for food.

Wednesday, I was in the backyard again and the chirping was louder than ever. I looked in the access well to see if junior had managed to get himself back into trouble. He wasn’t there but an upward glance brought my eyes to the downspout extender where Ken had seen him the night before. I wondered if he’d spent the whole night balancing on that round, slick surface? It didn’t matter, I just needed to give him and his parents some space. The problem was that we have an area of new grass right beside him that needed water. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to create any more stress for this little feathered family so I  moved on to my perennials. After a while, the chirping almost stopped and as I finished the perennial beds, I walked cautiously in the direction of the new grass. The little guy was still there but kind of tucked in next to the house, so I figured I could keep my distance, turn the spray on high, and water the grass without posing too much of a visible threat. With care not to hit the little bird, I completed my task during which the youngster dropped to the ground and sought shelter under some of my larger plants. Now he had some shade and maybe the fine mist cooled him a bit in preparation for another hot day.

We saw the family several more times, parents assuring their youngster was fed while pushing him to try and get those new little wings working. The last time I saw him, he was sitting on our front porch and mama spied me watching. She few toward the door, chirping loudly, warning the little guy that it was time to leave. Quick as a wink, he took flight. I’m sure he’s still around but so grown up, we wouldn’t recognize him anymore, thanks to wonderful, supportive parents who kept constant vigil during his adventure into the big scary world. And our yard is back to normal, warning chirps have ended and a crisis was averted.

We, too, have a parent who looks after each of us in the same way. He provides for our needs and offers guidance for living. But we, too, stray from the safety of His “nest.” We fail to hear His voice or read His roadmap and we travel down roads better left untraveled. Sometimes we find ourselves in very dangerous circumstances and sometimes we feel deserted and alone, just like a certain little robin.

I can honestly say I’ve never felt alone because I was blessed to grow up knowing I was a child of God. I still have my certificate of promotion from the cradle roll at First Baptist Church in Fulton, MO. Throughout those important formative years, faith-based activities were a mainstay in my life and I always felt surrounded by people who loved me and filled me with stories about a guy named Jesus, my very special friend. Even though I stumbled many times during my tumultuous teen and young adult years, I still never felt alone. Oh, I 

had questions about why things happened as they did. I still do. God and I have had some enlightening discussions about the “why” of life’s twists and turns, but I can’t imagine living in this world without the knowledge that God surrounds me all the time and He will forgive me when I return to His protective “wings.” If there is ever distance between us, it is I who have created that distance. I pray for people who don’t feel that special certainty that a loving protector always has their best interest in every situation and my hope is that one day, they will find it.

So, breathe deeply of the sweet scent of God’s presence, drink from His living waters and the next time you feel you’ve been abandoned, ask Him to offer a few loud chirps to let you know He’s still there and watching over you.

For his eye is on the sparrow, (or robin) and I know He watches me.

Paraphrased from the hymn, His Eye Is On the Sparrow, by Civilla Martin


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