06 August 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ Pondering pigeons and what I hope my girl learns from raising them...

But before I start, first a funny thought...

After typing the title for this post, my mind - independent of conscious, determined thought process - noted that the word pondering is remarkably similar to the French word pondre, which means to lay an egg. With me being one of those "fascinated-by-all-words" persons, of course I had to research the etymology, at least a little bit.

Just in case you also wondered... they aren't related, although they are listed as "faux amis" or false friends in the French etymology dictionaires because of their obvious similarities. Both words have their roots in Latin: ponder originally comes from the Latin meaning to place, or to set in a specific location; pondre originally comes from a word meaning to weigh or to balance.

How's that? A trivial, mildly interesting fact or a Monday! Now... continuing with...

Anna's been raising pigeons.

Before we went home on our last home assignment, she'd had a pair of these white, fan-tailed pigeons and enjoyed them immensely. So, for her birthday last December, Tim decided we should give her another pair. It has been an up and down roller-coaster ride filled with many laughs, many tears and lots of learning.

We'd had them about a month when the female laid her first clutch of eggs. First one egg and then a few days later as second one. Our inexperienced parents didn't do too well with their little ones and both died before reaching pigeon teenager-hood.

Anna (and the rest of the kiddos, too) were delighted when shortly thereafter, she discovered another egg... followed by a second a few days later... as the female pigeon took a break from the nest. Alas, tragedy struck again. We were still learning what the birds needed nutritionally, and they were obviously missing something, because the shells on these eggs were not sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the incubating parenting bird. Both shells (along with their premature occupants) ended up a crushed mess in their nesting box. Yuck!

We started mixing some crushed chalk in their millet, and tossing in an egg shell every couple of days and several weeks later? Voilà! I think it was Nadia who discovered the egg this time. Again, a second one showed up a few days later. In about a month, they had hatched: first one and then the second a few days after. 

Baby pigeons are rather ugly - the kind of critter only a mother and father could love. We quickly noticed, however, that the parents clearly favored the older of the pair. They eventually stopped feeding the second, smaller one. The girls tried to hand feed, but it died. Everyone was delighted, however, that it appeared the first one would live.

Enter Mary Michelle. Mornings at home were quiet last school year after all the big kids left for school. One of her primary forms of entertainment was standing out on the front porch, dropping bread crumbs or millet grains into the cage and then watching the pigeons scurry after them. Late one morning, after I'd left for Sahel, she decided to help the teenaged pigeon get his fair share. She filled a small can about halfway full with millet... and shoved the young pigeon's head into the can, trying to encourage him to eat. Tim made a valiant effort to save the bird once he discovered its predicament, but to no avail. More tears were shed... and we held yet another wake for one of Anna's winged bird buddies.

Tim and Anna were the brainstorm behind the success we experienced with the next clutch of two. 

Once the first hatchling was big enough to walk around, each day Tim or Anna would move him out of the nest for several hours - and the parents would feed the smaller one exclusively during that time. Those two young birds survived - have left their parents with an empty nest, graduating out and into their own cage (thanks to Brendan's modification of our previous evaporative-cooler-burgler-cage). The nest, however, wasn't empty for long! Two more eggs appeared shortly afterwards and a similar procedure was put into play with these two hatchlings. Both appeared to be doing well - until the runt from the second batch disappeared out of the teen dorm one night. Maybe she had a close encounter with Sasha the cat ~ but we found no clear evidence of her demise.

(Quick aside comment to any of my children reading this account - my apologies for any factual inaccuracies, as I was not directly involved in any of these events. I only know the 4-5 versions of what I've been told and I've tried to report as accurately as possible! M&m's recountings were always the most "interesting.")

So what does all of this have to do with anything? You might think it a stretch - but as I was editing and cropping these pictures for my Anna-girl, my characteristic and prolific ponderings kept returning to the fact that twice now, the weaker, underprivileged, quieter of the two would have quietly passed on had someone big and strong not intervened on her behalf.

And isn't the same true in life? It is the weak, the underprivileged, the poor, the hungry, the widows, the orphans, the unrecognized, the minorities, the sick, the handicapped, the foreigners and strangers who often quietly pass on - be it from life to death or just right before our unseeing eyes, IF those who are strong and powerful don't choose to set aside their rights and intervene on behalf of another.

Remember how Boaz allowed widows to come and glean from his fields? How he chose not to get all that he could out of what most would say belonged rightfully to him, the fruit of his wise management and labor? Instead, he graciously laid aside that right, choosing obedience to his God. I believe that was because he recognized all had been given as grace; he was overwhelmed with gratefulness to God. Therefore he had already given all back to the service of the Almighty - with no strings attached.

I do hope my girl, all of my kids actually, learn a principle from this act of having to choose to deny a stronger big brother so that his little sister could live. 

At first, in the morning when someone would first remove the big guy from the nest, he'd squeak and tweet furiously. I know. I listened to him day after day once the others had left for school. Big brother made a mighty protest.

But you know what? He was fine. He continued to grow and thrive and become strong. Life may have been a little harder for him, but he was okay. Having what he considered to be his taken away so that it could be given to another had a beautiful result - a sister. She survived and finally, she also began to thrive.

It is a valid and very real question in today's world:

What decisions do I make {every day as well as on voting days}
where I choose my rights over helping others?
What type of decsions do I encourage others to make?

For you were called to freedom, brothers.
Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but throuh love serve one another.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Galatians 5:13-14

...this week's gratitude list:

(#s 2905 - 2929)

amusement as I watch my 8 kids and their dad try and herd our small flock of pigeons back into their cages after pigeon play time

streaming internet that has actually worked - several days in a row!

busy seasons of hospitality

setting aside a weekend to rest

friends who are willing to look at their own sinfulness rather than simply pointing fingers at another's

nephew's weddings... the opportunity to finally look at the photos on fb... and a new niece by marriage ~ Congrats Nathan and Natalie!

family back in the States that we miss lots

friends back in the States that we miss lots

slowly ripening bananas

pigeon antics

pigeon ponderings

big girls buying milkshakes with their babysitting money

hiring my little boy to sift all 50 kg of flour

quiet in our house after all the loud fun with visitors the past week and 1/2

being able to enjoy watching so many of the swimming races at the Olympics. I LOVE that sport, and always will!

increased respect for Michael Phelps as I've watched him this past week prove that he's a truly gifted athlete

thrilled girls watching beautiful horses and skilled riders compete

clothes sorted and put away ~ ready for a new school year (now if I could just get the socks done!)

home school planning

finally some time to read this summer

Brendan's awesome score on his AP French exam

listening to a friend preach his first French sermon in Africa

entertaining a baby girl during the church service

my God Who remains patient with all my ponderings, questions and failings

a Savior Who laid aside His rights so that we might truly live

Pigeon photos taken mostly by Anna!

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