ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
I recently attended a funeral at which the Hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ was sung. It had been many years since I had heard those words and it made me think about the many wonders of this amazing world in which we live.
Each little flow’r that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.
I know that we see in the news almost daily accounts of atrocities committed by terrorist groups, actions taken by Governments in violent response and, let’s face it, there is a lot wrong with what is happening now. But, there is also a lot right. You see I believe that there exists a natural power of love that permeates the atmosphere of this planet we call Earth and is the overriding force accessible to every living thing. Given the opportunity love will conquer all things, yet still we see evidence of wickedness. We too often hear selfish nepotistic, jingoistic proclamations aimed at discriminating against social, racial or religious groups. Here is a happy story about the thoughtful power of love that exemplifies the theme that God made all things bright and beautiful. It is taken from my book ‘Animals Make You Feel Better’.
JOSIE: THE PARROT THAT NURSED HIS “MOMMA”
Tina Marie Smith lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband Jimmy and a collection of birds. The owner of four cockatiels, in August 1991 Tina was asked to give a home to an unwanted Amazon parrot. She at once agreed.
A bird in a gilded cage
When the bird arrived, Tina was surprised to see its extremely ornate cage. There were wire spires at each corner and an amazing dome at the top. Inside, the perches were cut from highly polished dowelling. It looked like the kind of cage any design-conscious parrot would love.
The parrot was called Josie and he had a magnificent bright-yellow blaze on his head, like a sunshine cap. His neck feathers were brilliant red and his long green wings were sprinkled with blue. Sitting quietly in that strange cage with his hooked beak half open, he looked a real character. Tina lifted him out to examine him, and placed him on a soft cushion.
Josie instantly fell into a deep sleep. The bird’s long wings spread out wide and his head turned to one side as his tiny eyes closed. It was as if he had collapsed with relief on being released from a prison. Tina took a closer look at his fancy cage and almost cried. Locked in there, the bird had obviously been unable to rest properly. The perches were far too shiny and thick for the bird to grip; one of his claws was badly damaged from trying to get a foothold. Two perches were far too close to the top of the cage for Josie, who was a big bird. His right eye injured, too. And the glittering silver water dish was almost out of reach. This was no friendly home for a parrot to be happy in; this was an instrument of torture.
As the parrot slept, he kept making little cooing noises of contentment. Tina knew then that this was a very special bird. He was her little friend and she would look after him. “Come on, baby,” she said. “You’ll be fine now. Momma’s here.” The parrot made a tiny cooing noise as if in response. Tina was in love.
Gently Tina stroked Josie’s marvellous plumage and spoke softly to the sleeping bird, whispering words of encouragement. How sad, she thought, that such a beautiful living thing should be injured through the thoughtless actions of supposedly more intelligent beings.
A new home for Josie
That very afternoon Jimmy built Josie a new, parrot friendly cage. This one had perches that the bird could actually sit on, a water dish and feeding bowl within easy reach, and, best of all, a door that would be opened every day. Tina nursed the poorly parrot for days, feeding him bits of fresh fruit. He soon became a healthy bird and was happy hopping around Tina’s house. Often he would hop into the utility room and hide behind the clothes dryer, where he could be heard flapping his wings.
Tina hand-fed Josie and stroked him. On warm summer evenings, he would join her on the porch outside her house. The parrot would just sit quietly beside his friend and take in the fresh air. Those were happy days for Tina and Josie.
Amazon parrots are noted talkers, they have a knack for picking up odd words and phrases, but for years Josie did no more than impersonate next door’s horse. He really had the sound off and could make the most realistic whinnying noise that Tina had ever heard outside a stable.
Josie’s first word
Early in 1997 Tina became ill. For months she had been complaining of headaches and finally, one bleak January morning, she collapsed. Jimmy was away at work and she was alone in the house – alone except for her feathered friends. Her head was spinning as an agonizing pain shot like a thousand volts of electricity into her brain.
As Tina lay on the couch where she had fallen, she felt a fluttering at the side of her cheek. Turning her head, she saw Josie. He had jumped out of his cage and hopped over to the couch where she was lying. His wing was outstretched stroking her face. As Tina looked in amazement, she heard the very strangest thing. Josie opened his beak and said, “Momma.”
The shock cleared Tina’s pain right away. The bird had spoken to her, stroked her aching head and comforted her. Years before when the parrot had first come to live with her and she had nursed it back to health, she had said to the bird, “You’ll be fine now. Momma’s here.” She thought Josie must have remembered and, seeing his friend sick and injured, had come to nurse her, just as she had nursed him when he had been a poorly parrot.
A practical joker
Since then Josie has really started talking. He calls out to Tina, “Open the door, Momma!” when he wants a hop around the room or a wing-flapping session behind the clothes dryer. He still impersonates the horse and has learned a new trick, to bark like next door’s dog. This is very confusing for Tina, who has been worried that the dog might get in and attack her birds. Time and time again she had run in expecting to see the hound in her living room, only to discover Josie woofing away on his perch. The strangest thing is that he seems to know it’s a joke. He always ends the barking with a giggle that sounds just like Tina laughing.
Tina’s headaches come and go. When they hit, she just goes to the couch and lies still. And, weird as it may seem, Josie knows when she is in pain and hops up beside her. The parrot had become Tina’s special little nurse and she is his surrogate Momma.