|The Bird That Talked
for the week of January 15, 2001
by Rubel Shelly
There is an old story about a fellow who lived alone and went to a pet store to buy a parrot. He thought the bird might fill some of his lonely hours. The very next day, however, he came back to complain, "That bird doesn't talk."
The store owner asked if he had a mirror in its cage, and the man said he didn't. "Oh, parrots love mirrors," he explained. "When he sees his reflection in the mirror, he'll just start talking away." So he sold him a birdcage mirror.
The bird owner was back the next day to gripe that his parrot still hadn't said a word. "That's very peculiar," allowed the pet expert. "How about a swing? Birds really love these little swings, and a happy parrot is a talkative parrot." So the man bought a swing, took it home, and installed it in the cage.
But he was back the next day with the same story. "Does he have a ladder to climb?" the salesman asked. "That just has to be the problem. Once he has a ladder, he'll probably talk your ear off!" So the fellow bought a ladder.
The man was back at the pet store when it opened the next day. From the look on his face, the owner knew something was wrong. "Didn't your parrot like the ladder?" he asked. His repeat customer looked up and said, "The parrot died."
"I'm so sorry," the stunned businessman said. "Did he ever say anything?"
"Well, yes. He finally talked just before he died. In a weak little voice, he asked me, ‘Don't they sell any bird seed at that pet store?'"
Some of us have mistakenly thought that happiness consists of lining our cages with toys, gadgets, and other stuff. Excessive consumption has become the hallmark of American life. "Whoever has the most toys wins" seems to be the likely candidate to be the bumper sticker for an entire culture. But is it so?
There is a spiritual hunger in the human heart that can't be satisfied by seeing one's own image reflected back in vanity mirrors, playing with our grown-up toys, or climbing the corporate ladder. Our hearts need real nourishment.
The love of family and friends, relationships over the pursuit of more things, personal integrity, a secure connection to God — these are the things that feed the soul. Have you chosen a life course that leads to a destination that matters?
Jesus told us this in his Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6). He knew that our souls could never be satisfied with anything less than eternity.
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