My Aunt has these cool, loud, fluffy things in her yard. They squawk and have wings, beaks, feathers, clawed feet…they all look like….well they look like guineas (guinea fowl to be precise).
I remember once I was given the task of putting them in at night. My aunt instructed me to make SURE that a specific bird was in because he was weaker than the rest. Right, okay. I just make sure that ONE specific one goes in….ummm…..how the heck do I do that?! I can’t tell them apart! And how the heck does she know all these birds my name?
Okay listen up! How does she know them? She spent time with them. She raised them. A few even began their first days in her house. She held them and calmed them. She knows their calls and they recognize her voice.
I, on the other hand, had spent no time with them. They were just numbers & I required an introduction. So my aunt took me out, pointed out her special bird, his limp, his tattered feathers and his specific color and told me his name. And so I knew him and I looked for him that night. I found him and made sure the little guy was safe. And I did not just see him as another bird, I saw him as Peep. Loved and special.
In that moment I began to care and they were no longer just numbers to count as I closed the door to the pen, they were individual and unique and had names.
For many of us (myself very included) it is easy to see or read about certain groups of people, certain lifestyles, certain situations or tragedies or consequences and view the people in them without any compassion or care. We see them and they are all the same to us. We view them from a distance without looking for the limp, the tattered feathers. We set our opinions before compassion has had a chance to shake their hand. And when we hear grace say “Go make sure that one is okay” we scratch our head in bewilderment because we are so removed.
Love and relationships require spending time with each other. Caring for each other. Even those we don’t have any interest in at first. Those different, foreign, frightening, special people who each have a story, each have a name, each have a limp. We just have to get close enough to see it.