Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

The lesson of the one-eyed sparrow

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published November 13, 2014

There is a scruffy one-eyed sparrow that visits our window feeder each morning. He positions himself with his good eye looking toward the yard so he can detect any other birds that might be intent on staking claim to the seeds.

We also have a shy brown rabbit that sits near the back deck when we are having supper. As we munch on our salads, he whittles away at the weeds. We usually don’t need a radio when we’re out there, since the choir of crickets provides a rousing concert. And don’t forget the tree frog, the little tenor that croons his version of an amphibian love tune.

You might be thinking we live on a huge farm out in the country, but in fact we have only a small lot in Decatur. There’s been quite a bit of development on our block, but the diminutive forest in our yard continues to draw an abundance of finches, cardinals, bluebirds, nut hatches—and in warmer months, those wonderful winged helicopters, the hummingbirds.2014 11 13 GB MURRAY The lesson of the one-eyed sparrow

Each fall we hear insistent clucking sounds made by chipmunks in search of a mate. Twice yearly, distant honking noises alert us to look skyward to see the migration of the sandhill cranes. And on some mornings piercing shrieks announce the presence of red-tailed hawks sailing through the clouds.

St. Thomas a Kempis, in “The Imitation of Christ,” points out that every living being can convey a lesson for us. As he puts it, “Every creature will be a mirror of life and a book of heavenly teaching.”

Sometimes, though, I believe we overlook the small lessons and demand too much from God. In the old Janis Joplin song, for example, the lyrics present a wish list for God that includes a Mercedes Benz, a color TV and a night on the town.

God is quite generous, giving us a sunrise and a sunset every day, plus an array of fancy flowers. He also sends rain for our gardens, wheat for our bread and honeybees to pollinate fruits and vegetables for our table.

It can be tempting, however, to take all these glorious gifts for granted and keep praying for manmade stuff like an elegant car, sprawling house and a closet crammed with clothing. Of course, God can provide these, but it seems ungrateful to overlook what he’s already doling out so generously.

That sparrow conveys a mystical message. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus assures us that God is aware of every movement of these tiny birds: “Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will.” These are such humble birds, not as colorful as, say, cardinals and bluebirds, and certainly not as extravagantly decked out as a peacock. Still, this is the bird Jesus pointed to as an example of God’s love for us.

The one-eyed sparrow at the feeder reminds me that our heavenly Father watches over each creature, no matter how plain, no matter how lowly. He provides their daily bread. And each of them has a place in his heart. Just like we do.

Lorraine’s latest book, “Death Dons a Mask,” is available at Artwork is by Jef Murray. Readers may contact the Murrays at