Choose Life, Choose Growth

 

     I took this picture of a nesting dove several years ago when I went to visit a homebound member. Why did it choose to bring forth life in this odd place? When I found the picture today, I thought, what can nature tell me about God, the human condition, and the good news from this?

My first thought – these eggs did not choose to be laid on the back porch of a house, on a lift mechanism that raises and lowers a wheelchair. They had no choice about where they would be incubated. So it is with humans beings.

We don’t choose where we will be born – in Kentucky, Oregon, the Philippines, France, Iran, or Uganda. We have no choice as to our parental origins – doves, sparrows, eagles, or ducks. We don’t choose the color of skin we will wear. We don’t even choose if we’ll be left or right-handed, or who will appear attractive to us.

Is it dumb luck? Or is it by design?

I’m beginning to think we are where we are by design. It’s the only thing that seems to make sense. And that’s the good news. There’s a purpose why each of us has been placed in a particular location. I don’t think it has to do with enjoying everything we can or to believe the right things about the Unknown.

What kind of Creator would place a child in Sudan or Cambodia, to be killed by genocidal guns or succumb to malaria or starve before they are five—permitting me to be born a middle class Christian Caucasian in the land of the free and home of the brave…and then make a judgment as to which of us will spend eternity in the Presence of Love and Goodness? What kind  of justice does that fit into?

Why did this mother dove do an ill-advised thing like build her nest in a dangerous place where the odds were not good that the humans would allow it to remain? Maybe it’s for the same reason that people build their homes in locations that are twenty feet below sea level with dikes to hold the ocean out or who build on flood plains next to rivers. Many think they can beat the odds.

Did the dove know danger was possible? She’s sitting in an aluminum pan that was used to hold bird seed. Why would someone feed her and then want to kill her? Of course, bird lovers are a different breed than hunters. Some hunters feed in order to kill. Bait and switch deception. (I’m not against hunting. I just think baiting is not competitive nor in the spirit of the man versus beast.) Maybe the dove was closer to wise than foolish in her choice.

What if her arguable choice of nesting sites caused her to lose her unborn? Should she be confined to a bird cage for life if she made a choice and her young don’t survive? Last spring, a my wife took down a wreath from our front porch, only to discover two, day-old birds with no feathers in a nest. Immediately we replaced the wreath without disturbing them.

Twelve hours later, I found both babies dead on the concrete below. They’d been cast from the nest. Why would one mother bird sit and protect her young as a human takes pictures of her from three feet away, while another casts her defenseless young to certain death simply because they’d been exposed to momentary observation by us?

I suppose not even nature has an acceptable answer for “why do bad things happen to good life forms?”

Not unless tragedy is one of the means whereby we have an opportunity to grow to become the person (bird) the Creator designed us to be. But what about the victim? Is it fair to it? The victim is no longer subject to pain. Or maybe it served its purpose. If the divine purpose was met, then it has no further purpose. It’s the living who have to deal with either growing or dying because of their losses.

There’s no life without growth. There’s no growth without pain or adjustment. And if we don’t grow or adjust to changing circumstances, we aren’t alive. Who wants to be a dead man walking? Jesus said, “I came that you may have life, and have it to the full.” He might have said, “I came that you could adjust and grow through the conditions of life.” And he promised to send the Comforter to help us through those times.

There is life after tragedy and loss. We’ve witnessed people who’ve grown and adjusted. We’ve seen new life come out of tragedy, so we know it can happen.

When loss comes, may we be given the strength to choose life.

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