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A Tale of Tweelie

Joy and Matthew Steem

Tweelie (1).jpg

This is neither ghost story nor a tale of suspense: it is a bit of writing about a bird teaching me insights that I should have learned a long while ago.

Rewind four weeks and you would find me on a 40 acre parcel of land doing some “tree-herding.” This is the fancier name for mostly brainless labor which allows me to listen to scads of lectures. Anyway, the day of note was hot till mid afternoon and then suddenly cold. While it was hot I noticed a lone little pre-fledged bird (this means about a 4-6 days old, pinfeathers only) with no parents in sight. I am all for nature doing her thing, but sometimes, like us, she messes up and unintended happenstance gets involved.

In this case, messed up was missing parents, a cold rain snap and a vibratingly chilled baby savannah sparrow warming up in my palm. She is now about four weeks old, cute as the dickens and fairly tame. But first …

I am a cat lover. My cat is a joyous fuzzy and soft bundle of warmth. He loves most affection and best of all, he likes being kissed. I was raised by my momma right: good things are predestinated to be put in close proximity to your mouth, whereupon your lips, in a glorious tripartite action meet each other and the object of affection. What follows is a heavenly sound, a wondrous tactile experience and the coming together of two things which were meant to be joined, at least temporarily, together. I am resolutely certain that Jesus had the kiss in mind before the lips came to be thought of.

But here is where the problem lies. The bird, whom I have called Tweelie, while quite tame and eager to eat treats from my fingers … happy to hop about my desk while I am reading my books (and also poop all over) wishes for nothing whatsoever from my lips.

And I am devastated.

I know she isn’t afraid. She likes my hands just fine. And even my nose touching her while she eats … but no kisses.

I wonder how it is that my expression of care is not THE universal expression. It should be! And yet, I am beginning to wonder, how often it is that I need to learn to look outside what is normal to me to see what is normal to someone else. Of course, this is elementary and I should already be cognizant of it. I mean the whole “love language” thing has been around for a while now.  But somehow I still didn’t get it.

I want to express affection in a way my dear feathered friend does not wish to receive it. And as soon as I become insistent about it, I realize now, my insistence turns a loving act into a potentially dominating one—and that is not loving.

Now obviously, there is more to expressing love than kissing (though it’s pretty cool). And as a person who wants to represent and express true Love from the Father of lights, I wonder in what other ways other people—and not the bird—might view my actions. For even though they might be based in love, they might not express to that person their best version of love.

That’s all. That’s what Tweelie the bird has taught me thus far. This does not mean I don’t IMAGINE kissing her though. I still allow myself that flight of fancy.