Gimpy Grackle

My toes were swishing in the bubbling sprinkler when I saw the crippled bird. He was a lone brown pillar of feathers wandering among splashing children and smiling parents.

Cole and Chase were playing outside at the Florida Aquarium on a muggy July afternoon, and I found a shady spot where I could stick my feet in the cool water, too.

We spent a couple hours inside the aquarium, and we always finished with the pirate ship and water fun.

My eyes followed the bird as he hopped awkwardly along the edge of the blue foam surface in the kids’ water area, his good clawed-foot taking the brunt of each hobbled-hop.

I recognized the bird as a Grackle in the same instant I realized there was more wrong with him than just his damaged claw.

The Grackle bent down and scooped up a few sips of chlorinated water, nearly falling over in the process. He attempted to fly across the play area but could only manage a haphazard, dozen-foot glide. I wondered if this bird had been hit by a car or fallen out of his nest as a baby.

He pecked at small, broken pieces of the blue foam, eventually dropping them from his open beak. As I watched him hobble around alone, searching for food, something inside me shriveled up like his damaged claw.  

Why are there animals with gimpy feet and people who can’t walk?  

Why must there be damaged things in Your beautiful creation?

Why, Lord?

God created me with a very sensitive heart. I live deeply – too deeply – taking in everything that I experience. Often I find myself shouldering a backpack filled with emotions, thoughts, and concerns that others can brush off and leave behind.

I don’t unpack emotional experiences easily. Good or bad, they linger in my soul and can scar if I don’t turn them over to my Savior. I’m so grateful to know the One whose “yoke is easy and His burden light,” and provides rest for my weary soul. (Matthew 11:29-30).  

As I watched the crippled Grackle hobble around, I wondered about brokenness. The world is highlited with examples of brokenness within the human population as well as throughout the animal kingdom. God’s Word tells us ‘why’ – we live in an imperfect, sin-coated, broken world right now, a world that’s currently in the “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21).

Even though my mind understands this, my heart has a more difficult time accepting pain and suffering. That hot afternoon I couldn’t help but lift a desperate prayer heavenward – the created crying out to its Creator.

Why, Lord? Why brokenness?

My gaze fell back on Gimpy as he hobbled alone, feathers askew and crippled foot curled up.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ~ Matthew 6:26

God’s answer flew in gracefully, landing a couple feet from hobbling Grackle. The two brown birds were nearly the same size, and I saw something sticking out of the new arrivals’s long, dark brown beak.

A meal.

In a matter of seconds the desperate situation of the gimpy Grackle turned around as its feathered friend shoved something yummy into its beak. Gimpy eagerly accepted the meal and hobble-skipped closer to his bird friend.

A parent bird? A sibling or mate? 

I didn’t know, but as I watched them huddle together among the water madness that afternoon, I soaked in the beautiful answer from my faithful God. 

 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

 ~ 1 John 3:17 & 18

In a broken and damaged world, those who claim Christ as Savior and follow Him in their lives are called to meet needs and fill hungry beaks.



6 thoughts on “Gimpy Grackle

  1. The hardest thing sometimes is to have compassion upon others in need. We see so very much of it around us. The bombardment of need everywhere we look causes those of us whose hearts are sensitive to those very people and needs to sometimes hide and protect ourselves. It’s overwhelming. I applaud your encouragement of others with this entry. It reminds us that we have to share in the burdens of others and come along side them. Just like that little bird who came along the friend in need. To allow ourselves to be God’s love to someone else is really the highest calling we as Christ followers have. You showed this so very succinctly and simply, with no sense of condemnation… more of a come and join us feeling. Thank you for sharing this one, Kerry. It was spot on and well-written.

  2. I stopped by from Cynthia Herron’s blog to congratulate you on your win! Being a bird lover, I had to read your post…I have felt the same emotions as I’ve watched the birds in our backyard; many lessons learned there. Then I scrolled down and see you have a son who looks a lot like my 4-year-old grandson…and all BOY! (So different from his five sisters!) Your blog is a lovely place to visit, warm and friendly. Keep up the good work.

  3. Kerry, your post deeply touched me. I, too, am a very sensitive individual. Wearing my heart on my sleeve causes me to feel things so deeply that sometimes I dwell on things often more than I should.

    We’ve been watching a robin’s nest in one of our purple-leaf plum trees for the past two weeks–from eggs to newly hatched babies–four of the precious, little creatures. Our daughter was saddened recently to discover that they were all gone. Since they weren’t yet old enough to fly, we realized that something unpleasant must have happened to them. I think, sometimes we have to just dwell on the fact that one day our sadness and heartpricks will all pass away, and everything will be made right and new again. Praise God!

  4. We learn so much when we stop and watch, don’t we? What a great story from nature to illustrate something so important for our new nature (in Christ) – to have compassion and serve. Great post. wb

  5. Kerry, I loved this so much I read it twice. I was wondering, my husband and I publish a Christian newspaper “Good News” in Southern Illinois. Would you be interested in sharing one of your blogs as a guest columnist. We pay a small amount, and of course you get a byline and your picture. I could mail you a copy of the paper, as well.

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