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Posts Tagged ‘budgie’

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Have you noticed that some seasons of life are filled with action, adventure, parties and people? Others are not. Over the past month I’ve been living the life of a hermit.  Winter has felt cold and grey, and I’ve caught the never-ending flu virus, which has led to quiet weekends and plenty of solitude.

Over this time my main companion has been Bobbie, my son’s blue budgie. Even when my voice is only a croak and my hair is beyond a mess, he is always delighted to see me, chirping along merrily with his ‘Hello Bobbie’, ‘Who’s a Pretty Boy?’ and ‘I Love You’s.  He’s always ready with his surprisingly gentle peck on the nose when I lean in for a kiss.

Bobbie’s companionship has sustained me through many lonely and bleak days, but despite his reliable nature, now and again he does disappoint me. Just as we are conversing happily, he catches a glimpse of his little blue face in his hanging mirror, and becomes transfixed by his reflection.   He is mesmerised by the gorgeous bird before him, and instead of offering his enthusiastic words and loving pecks to me, they are suddenly all directed at the bird in the mirror.  On it goes – ‘Pretty Boy’ and ‘I Love You’ along with his selfie-kisses, beak tapping madly on the mirror. Our conversation is suddenly over and I’m left talking to myself too.

Bobbie amuses me because his mirror-gazing fixation isn’t a trait limited only to budgies. People do it too.  Have you noticed?  Humans have their our own form of ‘mirror-gazing’.  It may range from a Facebook page populated heavily with selfie-shots, to an obsession with special projects and personal agendas, where little interest is shown in anything other than these particular projects and agendas.  A tell-tale sign I’ve noticed is a particular “glazed-eye look” which comes over a person which seems to prevent them from any shift in their focus. I’m sure most of us can relate to the Non Stop Talker in meetings, who ploughs on and on relentlessly, talking right over anyone brave enough to try to interrupt them. They are so focused on the reflection in the mirror that they can’t see or hear the people sitting right in front of them. Social media promotes this mindset, with all the: ‘Look at ME and all the fun I had today!’ mentality. There’s a temptation to turn away from the people right in front of us and gaze into our own little mirrors.   I fear that one day the human race may become so stuck in selfie-mode that we have with no connection at all to one another and the world around us.

Recently I met with two friends for morning tea. We had cups of tea in elegant yellow and black cups and saucers, rice paper rolls and delicious cake cut into little pieces.  Months had passed since the three of us sat together, and there was so much to discuss.  Each of us spoke in turn, sharing deeply about our struggles – laughing, crying and nodding in agreement.  The only thing that exceeded all of the talking was the quiet listening.  I felt listened to and heard each time I spoke, and spent a long time intently listening.  We each had our turn.  After three solid hours of free-flowing, authentic communication we held hands and prayed for each other.  Nothing banishes a mirror of self-interest like praying for someone else. It’s like emotional health food – building up our spiritual core strength and restoring the inner balance of joy and peace better than any Pilates class or detox shake.

Now I’m not too sure how Bobbie feels after a long session of mirror-gazing, but I know it leaves me feeling anxious and heavy-hearted.  The reflection in the mirror looks okay to begin with. Let’s face it, we’re all fascinated with ourselves to a degree.  At the start I’m like Harry the Mosquito in ‘A Bugs Life’, flying toward the bug zapper:  “I-can’t-help-it. It’s-so-beautiful”.  But once I spend some time gazing at myself all I can see are my failures, imperfections, problems and frustrations. Sometimes a coffee with a friend, listening, laughing and lightening up, or reading a chapter of a good book is enough to lift the heaviness. Other times I walk outside to look up at the wide expanse of sky and breathe in the cool fresh air.

Reflected in the mirror is a distorted egocentric world, but just outside our door are the wide open spaces, the big picture that exists beyond our selves –  painted by our Creator with humble love – a masterpiece of beauty, authenticity and promise.

 

 

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Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Ooh, I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
with a little help from my friends 

(John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

bobby

January in Sydney is the perfect time for a beach holiday.    After Christmas we packed up and headed down the South Coast, where lush green hills meet the aqua expanses of the Pacific Ocean.   The fifth member of our family, Bobbie the budgie, went to stay with friends.   We felt a hot car trip in Christmas traffic and staying in a crowded caravan park may not be to his liking.

We worried that Bobbie would miss us and fret. He is a friendly little guy, constantly chirping, giving us beaky kisses on the nose and doing his best to impersonate our conversations and dance to our music.  

Our friends already have a bird – a peachface who has sadly suffered a stroke and was spending much of her time ambling awkwardly around the bottom of her cage.  She had lost her ability to fly and even walking was difficult as she would lose her balance and flop to one side.  The vet said there wasn’t much that could be done but the bird wasn’t in any pain.

The special bond between the two birds was instant.  After 12 months without leaving her cage, our friend’s peachface flew across the room to converse with Bobbie.   Miraculously, the symptoms of her stroke vanished.

The two birds chirped, kissed and played, and the flying visits continued throughout Bobbie’s two-week stay.

Now Bobbie is home we often hear some new ‘peachface’ cries coming from his cage and he has resumed his happy kissing, dancing and saying hello routines.   No doubt he learnt many new tricks from his friend, and hopefully she has continued with her new lease on life.

Bobbie’s holiday reminded me of the times when I was ill with cancer, recovering from surgery and having treatment, when friends would drop by to visit or my husband would wake me with a cup of tea, opening the blinds and windows to let the fresh air and sunshine into a dark room.  Some days I’d wake feeling so weak, I would wonder how I would ever get out of my bed.  It was like sinking into a deep, numbing pit, and it was scary.   On the days when somebody would drop by to visit, I would drag myself up, brush my hair and attempt to act normal.  Amazingly, these were the days when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and felt the energy returning to my body and soul.  In the laughter and banter about everyday life, I felt the blood flowing in my veins again, and knew that one day I would again be in the land of the living.

The effectiveness of an encouraging friendship is played out in mentoring and coaching relationships in the workplace, and in one on one counselling and mentoring sessions leading to emotional healing.   The personal trainer has now become an integral part of our fitness regime and seems to motivate us to action so much more than being one of many anonymous participants in an aerobics class.  Jo-Anne Berthelsen writes about spiritual mentoring in her book ‘Soul Friend’ (http://www.soulfriend.com.au) which describes beautifully how this concept extends to our spiritual wellbeing  as well.

The key seems to be in the authentic nature of the relationship, the mentor truly believing in the potential of their student and showing them how to step up and live out that potential in their lives.    I think it  also has a lot to do with human connection and love.   When Jesus healed the lame, the lepers and the outcasts he would look them in the eye, speak gently to them and reach out and touch them. He would touch the lepers who hadn’t been touched in years.   This act of compassion and human warmth was the starting point in their healing journey.   Most of us would not like to compare ourselves to Jesus, but even in our human frailty we can reach out to others in compassion and use our own hands as a catalyst for healing.  God works through our human hands, however imperfect we may feel we are.

If you’ve ever been betrayed or hurt by a close friend, you’ll know that the damage caused by a broken relationship can be just as powerful in bringing about our demise as a healthy friendship in bringing about our healing.   Whenever I think of the pain of a friendship gone wrong, I think of a homeless man who lived in the doorway of an office in High Street Kensington in London where I worked many years ago.  He wore a filthy tattered business suit and when he wasn’t sleeping, a torrent of abuse was pouring from his mouth at everyone passing by.  I learnt new profanities each morning as I hurried to unlock the office door. One day I found out that he had been a successful accountant with a nice home and family but had walked in one day to find his wife in bed with his best friend.  The story was that he had turned around and walked out of  his home with only the suit on his back. He lived on the streets from that day on.   I suspect that his wife’s betrayal had been devastating, but his best mate’s betrayal had been the agonising final nail driven into his coffin.

Bobbie and his friend reminded me of the power of simple everyday friendship. An authentic and loyal friend can help us join the world again, to get back on our feet and fly out of whatever cage we may find ourselves trapped in.   Let’s remember the power of friendship this year, when the demands of work and financial security cloud our vision.  Let’s choose wisely in how we treat our friends – to always be kind, generous and sincere.   We have a responsibility to look after each other.  If two little birds can do it, surely we can too.  It is the love of family and friends which truly enriches our lives and brings about healing to our bodies and souls.

A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.”    Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there the leprosy was gone, his skin smooth and healthy.    Mark 1:40-41 (The Message)

bobby 2

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