I learned something disconcerting about myself.
Regular readers may recall my post about mourning three bird eggs that had been knocked to the ground when a severe storm destroyed their next. I had compassion for their death, but there was nothing I could do.
When I was out moving sprinklers in my yard I was horrified to see three too-young baby birds on the ground. They couldn’t fly and one couldn’t even hop; as I approached, they opened their mouths in hope of some needed sustenance.
Again, I had compassion but was frozen in a state of inaction. A myriad of thoughts rushed through my mind:
- I don’t know what to do.
- They’re going to die anyway.
- I’m too busy.
- What if they carry disease?
- I should let nature take its course?
I would periodically check on them with each move of the sprinklers. I continued to feel compassion and tried to justify my inaction. A couple of times I saw an adult bird on the ground near them. I convinced myself that their parents were tending to them.
Yet each time I approached, they turned in my direction and opened their mouths.
By the next day, the weakest of the three wasn’t looking too good and he later died. Would I likewise be witness to his siblings’ demise?
On the third day, one of them was clinging to the side of a tree and later he was gone. I never saw him again and assume he was able to fly away.
On the fourth day, the remaining bird was hopping with a bit more vigor and for the first time was instinctively flapping his wings. An hour later, he too was gone.
I should be happy that two out of three made it, but I wonder if I should have tried to help their weaker brother.
What I do know is that compassion without action is worthless.
Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.