Humans are often surprised when they learn about the longevity of parrots. I’m a millennium bird so that makes me 21. Senegal Parrots are usually expected to live for around 40 years. But my larger cousins can go on to 70 or in some cases 100! My owner once met a rather moth-eaten macaw which was said to be Winston Churchill’s old parrot companion. It certainly knew a lot of swear words and muttered all sorts of things about the Germans. The macaw’s owner claimed (some years ago) that it was then 103 years old.
A 100 plus years can seem an incredible lifespan for a human, let alone a parrot, but actually it amounts to a tiny blip of time when you consider it against the age of our Earth and the universe around us. And it’s an even smaller blip of time if you compare it to the promise of eternity in Heaven.
And if we stop to think about ourselves today, I wonder what’s different about us compared to three, five or 20 years ago? Every passing year has the potential to change our particular circumstances. But it’s not our circumstances that I am thinking about here. I’m wondering how we ourselves may have changed. Do we now hold a different set of values? Have our priorities changed? Do we view humans or the world around us in a different light? What currently troubles our soul or breaks our heart? Have we mellowed? Calmed down? Become more tolerant and understanding? Have we learnt to forgive and how to love? What have we been able to give to others or offer to the world as our personal legacy? And are we more aware of God’s presence inside ourselves?
These are all huge questions which serve as a kind of justification for our very existence. They are questions which many of us will wrestle with as we grow older. Of course, none of us will ever lead perfect lives; we will all leave a legacy of sin behind. But how have we tried to counterbalance the sin? What are the positive things about us? What are the good things that we’ve tried to do? And perhaps most importantly of all, have we kept God out or allowed Him in? It’s never too late for us to turn to God and to acknowledge Him, even if it comes with our very last breath of life…
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I amwise, so I am changing myself.” (Jalaluddin Rumi: 13th century Persian poet).
“We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky.” (Walter Mosley: American novelist in ‘Blue Light’).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone,the new has come!” (2 Corinthians: 5:17).
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but betransformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans: 12:2a).
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8).
So I’m probably just past the halfway mark in my small, feathery existence. I wonder how I will be shaped, moulded and changed during my next 20 years?