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Once upon a time, there was a shepherd who had 10 sheep.
Every night, they would happily sleep in a field together, until one night something went wrong.
When the shepherd came to gather the sheep in the morning, there was one missing.
The next night the nine remaining sheep went to sleep, but once again, when the shepherd returned in the morning one was missing.
The sheep were getting worried, so the next night, Seamus the sheep kept one eye open to see what was happening.
What Seamus saw was astonishing!
Tom was visiting Dwyer for his regular catch up.
He was unsure about the future and wanted greater certainty about the next step.
“I know that it’s what I need to do, but what if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? What if it’s an unnecessary risk? What if I’m better off staying where I am?”
Dwyer looked at his protegé with a smile and asked Tom, “Have you ever seen the wildebeest migration?”
“The what?” Tom responded. He was used to Dwyer’s strange questions, but this one took him by surprise. Read the rest of this entry »
Oxpeckers are amazing birds.
They are a small bird, only about 20 cm long, who get all of their food from landing on large mammals and consuming ticks and other small parasites.
Birds are normally flighty and timid, but these guys are incredibly brave, landing on antelopes, wildebeest, cattle and even elephants to gather their food.
But how did it start?
Who was the first oxpecker?
On my regular walk a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a bird with an injured wing.
It was sticking out at an awkward angle and was obviously uncomfortable as I walked past.
For a moment, I felt sorry for it, until I got a bit closer, when it took a few hops and took off into the air.
It didn’t fly smoothly, but it flew.
There were a few feathers missing, but it flew.
In a moment, I moved from sympathy to inspiration, because this remarkable bird didn’t use its impairment as an excuse to stay grounded.
We all know Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare.
The hare sprinted ahead and kept stopping, whilst the tortoise kept going, moving inexorably until he finally won the race.
It’s a great message about how slow and steady wins the race, but there’s one thing that we need to remember.
No matter how fast or how slow they went.
No matter whether or not they stopped along the way or kept on going.
They both finished.
I was watching David Attenborough’s latest series, Life Story, this week and one of the featured animals was a beautiful male flame bowerbird who had spent weeks meticulously building a bower to attract a female.
It was extraordinary to see the level of care and detail that went into his creation as he fidgeted and fussed about enthusiastically.
Then, when he was distracted by a couple of younger males, a rival came in and completely destroyed the bower.
He returned crestfallen and completed a quick inspection of the damage.
Then he did something amazing.
Penny the little penguin was hatched in a small burrow.
For the first few weeks of her life, all that she knew was the small, dark space that she called home.
Then her mum looked at her and said, “It’s time Penny.”
“Time for what mum?”
“It’s time to go out there, to swim in the ocean and catch fish.” her mum replied with a smile.
“But I’m scared,” said Penny, “I’ve heard that there are seals and foxes and sharks that want to eat me, and what if I can’t catch fish? I like it in here, it’s safe and warm and it’s all that I know. Why can’t I stay here forever?”
When a zebra stands out from the rest of the herd, it gets eaten by a lion.
When a pigeon stands out from the rest of the flock, it gets eaten by a hawk.
As social creatures, we often see ourselves in a similar light.
Don’t do anything too outrageous, you’ll be criticised.
A goldfish can’t swim outside of the confines of its small bowl.
A caged canary can’t fly to the sky above.
And a circus elephant does its tricks on command.
But that’s not us.
We’re not caged animals.
To help them flourish and keep the soil moist, we placed a layer of mulch around them.
Now every day, the local blackbirds can be seen hopping and scratching around them, looking for insects and worms to eat. They are relentless in their search, not waiting for the bugs to appear, but seeking actively for them under the surface of the mulch.
As I pondered these persistent little birds, I couldn’t help but wonder how many opportunities we missed because we were waiting for them to jump out at us.