Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
The Bird Shepherd: Planet Earth, 2300 A.D.
When you live in the same place your whole life, your surroundings begin to take on a residue of normalcy. If I had grown up in one of the cities with their tall buildings, thundering railroads, and the pungent stench of tar, then I might appreciate the natural landscape that surrounds me. But I was born in the wilderness. This is where I grew up, and this is where I’ll probably die. What some people call the great outdoors, I simply call work.
I’m what’s known as a bird shepherd. We’ve been around since the meteor called “Babel” hit the Pacific Ocean. We don’t know why, but for the past two hundred years there has been a gradual dissipation of natural instinct in animals. Birds have forgotten to migrate. Bees won’t pollinate, and bears don’t hibernate in the winter. If it wasn’t for man’s intervention, most species would have died off a long time ago.
Bird shepherding has proven to be one of man’s most successful endeavors. Soon after the meteor, researchers found that birds would react to low frequencies, much like dogs respond to the high-pitch of a whistle. Through sound we can guide them on a migration path that moves them to food in the winter and returns them home in the spring. My instrument of choice is a didgeridoo. Like a regular pied piper, I mount my glider and play my horn. Within moments I hear the responsive call of the birds as they meet me in the air, and we head south.
For nearly ten years I’ve made the trip alone, leaving my wife Norah to take care of the homestead and our son Mosaic. But not this year. This year will be different.
“I’m ready, Papa. I’ve already put coal in the furnace.”
I opened my eyes to see Mosaic dressed and waiting by my bedside. He’s grown up so much since Norah died. I’ve spent the summer training him to handle the ship correctly. He’s learned the art of circular breathing to help me with the didgeridoo. With Mosaic on board I could devote my full attention to steering the glider while he called the birds. It’s a long trip, though. I hope he’s ready.
“Well, aren’t you Johnny-on-the-spot?” I said groggily and tousled his hair as I made my way to the kitchen.
After a quick breakfast, I anticipated that his “preparations” would mean an extra hour of fixing his mistakes and teaching him how to properly keep the vessel fueled with coal, but he’d actually listened well the first time. We were able to board the glider just in time to see the sun rise.
Since the meteor, gliders have become a primary means of travel. They look like small boats with wings on both sides and a giant sail mounted down the middle. Mosaic calls it a kite. A coal powered fan fills the kite with air and propels the ship along the ground on a set of wheels. After reaching a certain speed, the wings catch the wind and lift the craft into the air.
“It’s so awesome, Papa! Like having a campfire in the sky!” Mosaic giggled with joy as we left the ground, a sensation I’d almost forgotten. He’s just like his mother, always full of wonder.
“Yep, it’s something,” I said feigning interest. I had seen plenty of sunrises and flown often enough to be excited. I was more interested in keeping our vessel on course. “Ok, son. It’s time,” I instructed, expecting to hear the didgeridoo, but there was no response. “Mos?” I turned to see him leaning over the edge. “Son! I need you to call the birds!” I barked a bit too harshly.
“Look at the trees. They look like grass up here.”
“This ain’t a sight-seeing excursion, boy. This is work.” Mosaic sheepishly returned to his post and began to play a series of drones on the horn. Soon we were joined by a flock of birds who followed the aircraft like baby chicks after their mother. I was proud of Mosaic who remained at his post for the rest of day, faithfully sounding the drones. I felt a little guilty for squelching his excitement, but sooner or later he would have to learn to take things seriously.
We flew like this for hours. Endless sky, no noise except for the wind and the rhythmic drones of the didgeridoo. After nearly ten hours I found myself hypnotized.
“Pa! What’s that?”
As night closed in, I was shaken out of my stupor by a shout from Mosaic. I turned around for a half second and quickly dismissed him. “I don’t see nothing, son. Must be your imagination.”
“What do you reckon it is?”
“I have no idea, son.”
Suddenly I was holding his same fascination as we watched the emerald flame dance, fully blazing but not burning up anything around it.
“Let’s stop and see what it is,” Mosaic said.
“That’ll put us behind schedule, son. It’s way off course. These birds are confused enough as it is.”
I had to admit that my curiosity was aroused. I’d never seen anything quite like it before. Who knows if it would be there on our return trip? Before I could talk myself out of it, I heard the wonder in my voice saying, “You’re right, son. Let’s set this thing down. Couldn’t hurt to check it out.”
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1 (NASB)
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:1-4 (NASB)
-Questions to Ponder: What awakens wonder in you? Are there any wonder-full things in life you have lost sight of?
-Song Recommendation: Golden Summer by Songs of Water
Written by Benjamin Sadler, Inspired by Exodus 3 & Psalm 19. © 2016 Benjamin Sadler, All Rights Reserved. “Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”