The Finch Whisperer

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By Dave Henning / September 2, 2014

cordon bleuI have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”- Isaiah 49:16

“Put everything in God’s hand and eventually you’ll see God’s hand in everything.”- Author unknown

After Erling Kjelland returned home to Chicago following his service in the U. S. Navy during World War II, his wife presented him with two blue parakeets.  That eventually led to the opening of his rare bird shop in an old red-brick building in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood.  Sedgwick Studio became home to approximately 500 birds- including macaws, lorikeets, lovebirds, and finches.  Mr. Kjelland, a respected ornithologist, loved each of those birds.  And when my finches’ toenails needed trimming, Mr. Kjelland patiently secured each finch, gently cupping the frightened bird in his hand and calmly talking his feathered friend through the procedure.  The “Bird Man of Old Town” may have been the first finch whisperer.

George MacDonald once said, “Everything difficult indicates something more than our theory of life yet embraces.”  When Mr. Kjelland’s hand entered my finches’ enclosed cage world, they instinctively attempted to fly away from the intrusion.  Similarly, we’re reluctant to embark on a prolonged and uncertain transformational journey to revisioned vocation, finding a quick exit ramp from our adversity quite preferable.  D. M. Lloyd-Jones, however, cautions us not to expect God to remove our sorrow and replace it with happiness.  Instead, we should look for/taste a conviction and increasing sense of God’s presence that enables us to rise above the darkness.  As Christian journalist Malcolm Muggeridge observed near the end of his life: “Everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my life has been through affliction and not through happiness.”

Although our world is shaking with the pain of anxiety, uncertainty, and abandonment, Jesus always is with us- and we never leave His hands.  The pain, suffering, and rejection He experienced on the cross exceeds ours “as infinitely as His knowledge and power exceeds ours (Timothy Keller).”  His still, small voice compassionately assures us that we are safe and secure in His embrace.  Frederick Buechner encourages us to share that compassion with others:

“Compassion . . . is the knowledge that there can never be peace an joy for me until there is peace and joy for you too.”

About the author

    Dave Henning

  • Avatar Ruth Hansen says:

    Beautiful meditation and song, David. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Avatar mary pat blockel o'donnell says:

    Just love everything you wrote about in this blessed meditation&love the history lesson as well about my beautiful Hometown “Sweet Home Chicago!” Ångels around you with God’s Higjest Blessings for all the to be good in your lives! 🙂


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