Last week after mass as I was talking to the parish priest in a nearby church a woman approached us in hysterics.
“Have you got a ladder? Have you got a ladder, there is a trapped pigeon over there and I need a ladder to save him. Have you got a ladder?”
Now these are the situations where one has to think twice before speaking because while at a personal level perhaps we were unconcerned about a trapped pigeon but because we were standing at the church porch, we were also representing God and Christianity.
Now to be honest I am not an animal lover and even if I was, the pigeon would be towards the bottom of the ladder. They seem like quite dirty birds, some call them “rats with wings” and in France there is an expression ‘c’est un pigeon’ which means “it’s a pigeon” but colloquially means “that person is an imbecile”!
So in summary the poor old pigeon is neither known for brains or beauty.
Yet going beyond my personal feelings on the matter I could see that this woman was deeply concerned and charity demanded me to at least show some empathy.
The parish priest was unable to give her a ladder and very upset she shouted:
‘And you are the church and you won’t save a pigeon …well GOD BLESS YOU TOO”
As as she stormed off.
Both the priest and I stood there slightly amused at the over-reaction and yet with a certain compassion for the poor lady.
After saying my goodbyes to the priest I noticed that across the road she had managed to find a ladder and so I decided to risk getting told off to help her.
I offered to hold the ladder and she was very grateful. She pointed out the trapped pigeon which of course provided the perfect analogy to talk about God, about suffering and about life!
One of the best ways to evangelise is to talk to people about God using something that they know already and are passionate about. If this meant saving a pigeon then it was worth it!
Now in the end the ladder was too short and we did not save the pigeon but that wasn’t the point. This simple act of kindness put a smile on her face and witnessed to her the love and care of Jesus.
Every day we will be faced with many of these types of opportunities. It happens to me all the time. And each one is an opportunity to die to ourselves and to reach out in love into another person’s reality.
It takes enormous patience as people get worked up and bothered by all sorts of things that may seem insignificant to us but yet isn’t that what loving others is all about?!
So the next time that you are in church and maybe someone comes in with a cat or a dog or on the phone or they start singing or praying out loud….take a deep breath and instead of telling them off why not smile and say “that’s a lovely cat or dog or song or tattoo….can you tell me more?”.
Soon enough you’ll discover another child of God and your welcome and love may be an important witness in bringing them a step closer to Jesus.
And so today let us try to be like carrier pigeons, carrying the love, joy, compassion and patience of Jesus to everyone we meet as we go about our daily lives and may we ask that famous doctor of the church, St.Therese of the child Jesus to help us as we endeavour to do the ordinary things in an extraordinary way.
Have a wonderful day!