August 28, 2020

Our youngest granddaughter, 3-year-old Marie-Hélène, talks a lot! And much of what she talks about is a running narration of what is happening. Monday, during our regular WhatsApp visit, she was just bursting with a story about what she’d just done in the bathroom (I’ll spare you the details), and then went on to explain that her Papa had done the same thing. Papa, who was on the call with the girls and I could hardly contain our laughter at the detailed narration of what had transpired. 

I was immediately taken back some 40 years, to our house on Mulberry Street in Harrisburg, PA. We lived in a tri-plex and the neighbors who shared a wall with us became good friends. They had been missionaries in Zimbabwe and had brought back a grey parrot named Kazuku. Kazuku was a great mimic, who would famously respond to the request to “Say something” by saying, “Silly, birds can’t talk.”

Our neighbors asked us to keep Kazuku for a week while they went on vacation, and we were happy to help. Our sons enjoyed feeding Kazuku, and we all got a kick out of what came out of the bird’s mouth.

That is, until after they returned home and Kazuku took up residence on their back porch. I was surprised and shocked to hear my words as well as intonation, coming from the other side of the fence. “Daniel.” “Seth.” “Come here!” “Stop that!” It was uncanny and more than a little frightening to think that Kazuku had perfectly learned, and then repeated the most common things that I said in the course of just one week. Not once did I hear that bird say, “I love you.”

I wonder what would happen if we had a Kazuku living with us, how that might change our we talk. Our words have the power to bless or to curse, to build up or tear down. A grey parrot to reflect back what we say – and better yet – what we think in this season of divisive discourse.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. (Colossians 4:6)

Pass the salt! ~ Anne

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