“In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely.” Hosea 2:18
This morning, with our bedroom windows open to soft breezes, I awoke to the song of a mockingbird.
Author Harper Lee sent this extraordinary bird soaring into legendary heights with her famous novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The title hints at the significance of the mockingbird with the following explanation:
“…remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”*
Most literary analysts say the mockingbird represents innocence, harmlessness. If that’s the case, Harper Lee apparently never had one of these avian kamikazes attack her hair for getting too close to a nest.
But, I have to agree with Ms. Lee that it would be a sin to kill one. Mockingbirds are astonishing animals. They are capable of mimicking up to 200 different bird calls…all with a brain the size of a small nut.
The northern mockingbird has a range covering most of North America, while its southern cousin, the tropical mockingbird, roosts in Central and South America. There are other species around the world, so it’s possible that you’ll find one nearby.
Males usually set up proprietary nesting territories, singing to attract a mate and then warning all other suitors to steer clear. Our yard king claims the bluebird housetop as its throne-perch, terrorizing the nesting bluebirds (they stick around anyway). I watched one this afternoon chasing a much larger raven away from the yard.
Mockingbirds will sing for hours. All day. And all night at times. Even now, as I’m doing a final evening edit on this blog, there’s one vocalizing nearby, usually about three trills for each birdsong. His piercing melodies dominate the neighborhood airwaves, to declare his romantic intentions and bravado. He is at heart, truly, an innocent.
When people look for miracles, they expect grandiose, dramatic events. But if we just listen, the mockingbird is a miracle within reach. Scripture tells us that everything that has breath praises God (Psalm 150:6). The mockingbird is certainly a songmaster of bird praises, rivaling any performance by our greatest opera stars.
If you’re privileged to hear a mockingbird this week, stop and marvel at its memorization accomplishments. Listen for God’s voice to speak to your heart, saying, “Here’s a miracle just for you, My child…O listen and recognize that I am good, that I have all things working together for your good.”
Blessed Lord, Creator of all creatures on earth and in heaven, give us joy this week in hearing Your unfettered music broadcasting from the treetops. Let us see Your handiwork in creation and stand in awe of Your awesome power, intelligence, and colorful creativity. Give us faith in knowing that You are the God of miracles, ready to heal every one of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.