God is Watching Over Us
I let the pigeon fly free. We have two of these birds--given to the children as pets. And the pigeons have been living behind a divider wall inside the chicken coop. But I worried that they needed more space and opportunities to really fly. So one day, when my son had tucked them in his jacket to keep them warm, I told him he could let them fly outside the chicken coop. One of the birds flew high and far. She was impossible to catch. The other returned quickly to the safety of her enclosure.
The pigeons are like children. Some like to play it safe, eager to follow the rules. But others are risk takers, always testing the limits and boundaries of family life.
"A member of our family is missing?" my husband said with moist eyes after I admitted that I let the pigeons fly free and one of them hadn’t returned. My husband is a worrier. He went outside in the cold wind and stood by the chicken door, hoping the bird would come nearby and he could personally welcome it home.
I had assumed the bird could find its way back through the various holes in the coop. But my husband didn't believe it. As the day wore on, he was convinced the bird would be dead within hours, attacked by other birds or dashed to the ground by the now fierce wind. As our family watched from the windows, we spotted our bird with its distinctive markings, trying to get acquainted with other pigeons. They seemed to attack her. Our bird was chased out of trees and off the telephone wires.
And so we prayed for the pigeon. "What else can we do but pray?" I asked my husband. He looked over his glasses with an accusing stare. "Not let them out in the first place. That would be a start," he said. But once a thing has happened, prayer is an answer.
Why do we minimize it? Prayer is a great answer!
I prayed that the children’s pet would be safe. And I prayed that my husband would forgive me if my impulse to give more freedom, caused the bird's death.
That afternoon, when I went out to feed the animals, the wind was so punishing, there were no birds anywhere in sight. I wondered where they all hide when the weather is bad like this. Our yard is normally filled with sparrows and blackbirds and pigeons.
I went to the chicken coop, ready to admit it--the worst had happened. That's when I heard cooing. I looked behind the wall. Both pigeons were there! And they were climbing all over each other--happily saying, "You're safe. You're home. All is well."
My husband continues to playfully repeat, "There is a bird missing."
In a way, he is acknowledging that when a family member takes a step toward independence they take a part of us with them. He was also acknowledging in his playful way that I was right to have faith in the bird's ability to find her way home. And, it is important to trust in God who said He watches over everything, even the little birds.
But my husband's words, "A bird is missing," are also a reminder to me that we parents need to find a balance between supporting our children as they try out new things, and keeping them safe. They need both the boundaries and the options--the parent who would give them freedom to explore, and the one who would guard them.
And they need our prayers for those times when we can’t be present. Our children need their heavenly Mother to watch over them at all times.
Let us pray, "Mother Mary, guide our children as they explore the world. Be with them to keep them safe and show them how to live a life saying 'YES' to God."