Wednesday, May 7, 2014
On the spiritual page of the Catholic Times, the columnist recalls a visit he made to a priest doing pastoral work on an island. The time spent with him was always very rewarding. His words about the spiritual life never left time to be bored. While they were talking, a bird flew into view, and he interrupted the conversation looking intently at the bird. And again when a bird in a near-by tree began to chirp, he listened carefully. The columnist surmised that he was very much concerned with the world of birds.
That evening at the meal one of the side dishes was chicken. And the columnist without much thought asked: "Father, how dumb must birds be since we often hear: 'he has a birdbrain'?" A serious expression appeared on the face of the priest, and he answered: "Father, the heads of birds work very well. Just think of the thousand of miles that they travel to and from in their migration all without a GPS (Global Positioning System). It certainly is not a lack of brain power." "Very true, Father, you must have a great love for birds."
He then retold the columnist the following story. "Some years ago a group of specialists on migratory birds came to the island to study the birds. I was interested in the equipment they brought along, and became a spectator. On one occasion, I had the opportunity to spend time eating with the group. I asked the head professor since he is so interested in God's creation shouldn't he become a Catholic. Hearing my question the professor responded with laughter and asked me: 'Father how many names of birds do you know?' I could list the names of 12 different birds. He in response: 'Father since you know only about 12 species that is an extremely small number of God's creation. If you loved God wouldn't you know more than 12 of his loving creation? There are over 7000 bird species. When you learn the names of at least 500 of his creation and their characteristics, then I will think of the possibility of becoming Catholic.' Hearing these words was like a slap in the face. Once you love someone you want to know all there is to know about the person. I began the study of birds and their characteristics and began to see the differences between them. I see a great deal more than ever before. When I see a bird flapping their wings or hear their song I can tell pretty much what specie it is. The study of birds has become a hobby. Whether the professor becomes Catholic or not is not the issue, but seeing the variety and the preciousness of God's creation leads me closer to the creator and to appreciate the preciousness of all creation."
Hearing what the priest had to say was of great interest. In making the study of birds a hobby has enabled him to appreciate God's creation in a way he never did before. The columnist found this aspect of the pastor as strikingly beautiful.