As an Enneagram 2, I often become invested in stories and problems that really aren’t mine to fix. That was certainly the case in my neighborhood this weekend and I was on edge with concern until the problem was resolved.
Mid-day on Saturday, my husband and I were enjoying the beautiful weather from our front porch, when all of the sudden we heard a great deal of commotion and some incredibly distressing sounds coming from the tree line between our home and that of our neighbor. At first, we thought it sounded like the cries of a child, but as the noise continued, we saw a mom and her young son run into our driveway with their eyes fixed to the top of the trees. What we soon learned was that these were neighbors from a few doors down and their pet parrot, Soda, had escaped from his home for the first time ever and was on the loose. His closest companion, the son (a boy around the age of 8 or 9), was clearly the most concerned and was likely going to be the one to coax Soda back into his cage if anyone could. He was diligent about his job and took the suggestions and instructions from his mom with great intention. He was such a trooper despite being so afraid for his friend.
For the next several hours they talked back and forth with the bird using calls that were clearly familiar in their home (it was fascinating to hear the boy communicate with him). At first, they used more bird sounds, but eventually they comforted him with words, then begged him with words, and even tried scolding a few times, but the bird did not move. They tried to startle him with a water hose, tennis balls and even a nerf gun, again all to no avail. As onlookers we began to google ideas and for more than an hour nothing seemed too outlandish to try.
As one hour became two, then three and there had been dozens of unsuccessful attempts, my closest neighbor grabbed some climbing gear and began to scale the tree that was certainly not ideal for climbing. His small frame and experience with cliff climbing allowed him to get closer than anyone had all day. Although unable to reach the bird, he did startle him and Soda flew from the tree much to our delight, only to then perch in the top of another tree just a few houses away, where he would remain for the next 24 hours.
Recognizing there was little else for us to do, we returned to our homes and routine tasks; however, Soda’s family began a vigil in their driveway that would last much longer than anyone anticipated. With their eyes fixed on the bird from late afternoon into the night, they then took turns waiting him out in the case he might fly again. As the moon and stars appeared and the temperatures fell, I’m sure there were fears that things might not end well.
The following morning, as our family left the neighborhood for church on Easter Sunday, we could see the exhaustion on the faces of those who cared so much for Soda as they still sat in lawn chairs with blankets over them from the long night they had endured. My heart was breaking for them, especially thinking of that young boy who was so worried about his “best friend.”
When we returned home late Sunday afternoon from our Easter festivities, we discovered that Soda had flown once again, this time back to the original tree line where the ordeal had started a day before. I noticed a new, taller ladder leaned against the tree, and someone had placed Soda’s “perch” on the ground beside it. Although not visible to me, I could hear the family continuing to “talk” to him from their backyard just a few feet away. I recalled that each time they called to him before that they would extend their arms out by their sides, parallel to the ground, creating a safe space for him to land should he choose to. I imagined they continued to maintain that stance. We went to bed Sunday evening praying that Soda and his family might be reunited soon.
As I had my coffee this morning, now Monday, I again heard the familiar conversation with Soda and a gentle coaxing to come down for food, water, and safety. This time, the father was alone, and you could hear in his voice the concern and pleading after two exhausting days and nights. He spoke gently using words like, “You’re okay”, “I know you are hungry”, “I’ve got you” and “It’s safe to come down.” He was incredibly patient even after two long, frustrating days. I could see that he had cleared away some branches and climbed the ladder almost halfway up the height of the large tree. He had now placed the perch on limbs near him in the hopes that Soda would come within arms’ reach if not all the way to the ground. I watched and prayed again for the bird to finally comply with the requests.
I am elated to share that in a matter of minutes, after 48 long hours, Soda stepped safely onto the perch launched high into the trees and his family was able to safely lower him to the ground and back into their home. Although we were all incredibly quiet and still so as not to create a startling effect, the relief clearly felt brought tears to my eyes. I know a young man will return home from school today to an incredible celebration. I love a happy ending.
Maybe because it was Easter Sunday or maybe because I just tend to overthink and spiritualize things, each time I passed by their home and saw the family so patiently waiting for Soda to make the decision to “come home”, I thought about Jesus and how he pursues us. A few thoughts came to mind:
1) They knew that pushing too hard to try to get Soda down would have the opposite effect. It would startle him and cause him to fly further and into more danger. Instead, they stood with their arms outstretched with gentle body language that said, “Whenever you’re ready.” By the same token, Jesus never pushes too hard, but simply holds out his arms and makes Himself available when we are ready.
2) Some might think that Soda wanted freedom; that he didn’t want to live his life in a cage. But in reality, that is where he is most comfortable. It’s where he feels the most safety and the most loved. Being outside of that security is where things are scary for him. Sometimes we view coming to Jesus in much the same way…as if we are losing our freedom or being put into a cage. The reality is that the safety, security and love He gives provides more freedom, not less. It is for freedom that He sets us free. (Galatians 5:1)
3) That precious family would not rest until they knew the bird was home safely. Jesus never sleeps nor slumbers – He’s always working and He’s always waiting. (Psalm 121)
4) There was a great celebration when Soda was reunited with his family. In the same way, the angels celebrate every time someone comes to the Lord. (Luke 15:10)
My pastor said yesterday in his Easter Sunday sermon that we often minimize both the sin in our lives and how much we are loved in spite of it. No matter who you are, or what you’ve done, Jesus stands with his arms stretched wide saying, “Whenever you are ready…come home.” And the angels are ready to rejoice.
Stephani Cook is a life coach, speaker, writer, podcast host and the creator of On Purpose Coaching. Through On Purpose Coaching she helps others to improve relationships and to discover intentional abundant living. She does that through group and/or individual coaching, live event speaking or Enneagram workshops in private and corporate settings.
To connect with Stephani about the possibility of coaching or speaking to your group or organization, visit her website http://www.stephanicook.org