Mar 17 2010

Learning From Birds

raven 380“Look at the birds…”  (Matthew 6:26)

I’m not a birder.  I like looking at, feeding and photographing birds but I confess I have trouble remembering their names and distinguishing their calls.  That’s why it may surprise you to learn that the two books I’ve been reading this week are about birds.  I just finished reading Stacey O’Brien’s book, Wesley the Owl.  It’s a wonderful story about the barn owl she kept in her home for nineteen years.  The other book is Bernd Heinrich’s The Mind of the Raven.  Heinrich is an expert on ravens and explores the question of raven intelligence in this fascinating book.

Both writers spend considerable time talking about lessons they have learned by studying and observing the birds in their lives.  They believe that we have a lot to learn from birds.  The great Reformer, Martin Luther, apparently thought so too.  Back in the 16th century he wrote that he felt God “is making the birds our schoolmasters and teachers.”  He added, “We have as many teachers and preachers as there are little birds in the air.”

Burrowing OwlFrom Wesley Stacey O’Brien learned “the Way of the Owl.”  She also indicates that this incredible barn owl enabled her to connect with God again.  Bernd believes ravens are very intelligent creatures and that we can learn much from them.

John Stott, a highly respected Christian theologian,  once wrote, “Many Christians have a good doctrine of redemption, but need a better doctrine of creation.  We ought to pursue at least one aspect of natural history.”   Stott himself chose to focus on birds and has published a book called The Birds Our Teachers.  He, too, believes that there is much we can learn from the birds of the air.

I guess I need to start paying more attention to birds.  It would appear to be the wise thing to do.  Wise as an owl…


(The raven image above was taken in Yellowstone last month.  The burrowing owl was photographed in southern Florida.)