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  • Sarah Raad

Trees

“I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6).

Garden of Earthly Delights (Bosch)

My sister’s family had a pet bird named Monte, who lived with them for many years.


Monte was some sort of beautiful parrot and though Monte did not like to come out of her cage and ride around on their shoulders – as my bird Bluey does – she liked my sister to give her a pat every day through the door of her cage. Though Monte lived in a cage, her cage was very beautiful. It was very big and spacious and had been set up just for her – with a hammock and a swing, and fresh tree branches cut for her comfort every single week.


Monte would keep the family entertained with her squawking – she had a very loud screech – and her antics. In fact, some would say that Monte’s voice was as ugly as her feathers were beautiful.


Monte was a strange little parrot. She did not sleep on a perch like a normal bird. Instead, she would lie down in her back inside her little bird-hammock, as though she had literally dropped dead. In fact, the first time that my little niece and nephew saw their pet bird lying there “dead to the world” – so to speak – they ran inside to their mother and told her that the bird had died.


But that was not the case. Monte was just sleeping in her own uniquely strange way – flat on her back with her eyes closed, her beak open and her wings spread wide without a care in the world. Monte was a much-loved member of my sister’s family, and she would spend hours entertaining them from where she lived just outside the kitchen window, with her crazy squawking and her playing dead.


Then, other day – when my sister opened Monte’s cage to give her some food as per usual – Monte simply flew away…


The family watched her go – straight up into the tallest of trees – and despite trying to call her down again, that was sadly the end of that. Monte was gone.


I have been thinking about this pretty and quirky little parrot since she flew away some weeks ago because she reminds me of how we are to Our Blessed Lord…

You see, we were created by love and for love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that God made humans to know Him, to Love Him and to Serve Him and to be with Him one day in Heaven…

Sort of like that crazy bird Monte if you really think about it.


After all, Monte lived outside the kitchen window at my sister’s home. That means that she could look into the family’s house whenever she wanted to – and she often did. And the family came outside and spoke to her outside her cage each day. In this way, Monte could know her family a little…


We are like this with God. Though we are not in Heaven with Him and are not able to know Him as fully as we could if we were living INSIDE His House, we can still know a little of Him – though it is difficult to understand Him well in our lives here. And yet, God talks to us inside our cage and he listens to our screeching from inside the “kitchen”. He is entertained by our antics when we are good. And He cares for us, even when we fail to understand it. And if we live in the way that we are supposed to here on earth, we can focus on God as we watch Him from where we sit inside our cage.


But Monte is like us in more ways than one! After all, one day – without much warning – Monte flew away. That was that. Years of care and caring and the bird simply gave it all away for a life in the trees. Now, at first glance that may seem like a good deal for the bird – after all, birds like to fly free and surely there is great enjoyment for a bird to soar through the air and nest in the trees. But… Monte was not just any bird. In fact, Monte was a very particular sort of domestic bird who was particularly unsuited to a life in the trees. After all, how will Monte go to sleep in the wild – flat on her back, beak open and wings outstretched? Surely, she is not used to foraging for food? Surely, too, Monte is unused to protecting herself from predators – other larger birds, and cats and humans?


It is like this with us as well. We think we can do better ourselves. Eve was the first of us who decided to fly free and alone through the trees, and we all know where that landed her – and it was not a comfortable old perch! Now, we – like Monte in those trees – have lost our focus on God and we are in danger! We are prey of the Evil One and unsuited to looking after ourselves… We reject Our Blessed Lord and we are alone in the trees. At first, we feel strong… But then night comes and the darkness. We are tired. We are hungry. We are scared. We are alone. And we are totally lost.


And this is why Christ said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:6-7).


Because we need a way, to return home, from where we are perched, up at the tops of the trees…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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