A LESSON FROM AN OSTRICH
As part of my spiritual Developmental program, I select a book of the Bible for intensive study – utilizing available commentaries and other reference materials resulting in a notebook(s) of information gleaned from the study. Perhaps one of the more difficult books that I have encountered is Job. Although most believers know of his travails, I would suspect that other portions of this book are less familiar.
Perhaps one of the more unusual and yet interesting portions in the book of Job is chapter 39, in which God asks Job several questions about the animal kingdom in order to demonstrate how limited Job’s knowledge really was. God was not seeking answers from Job. Instead, He was trying to get Job to recognize how limited his knowledge was and to submit to God’s power and strength. Only then could he hear and understand what God was really saying to him.
As part of my biblical study, I attempt to project myself as a character in the text and try
to imagine participating in the dialogue and/or try to discern what and how I would respond in the situation. The section in chapter 39 really struck a responsive chord with me. What did I really know about ostriches?
Of course, everyone knows that at the first sign of danger, the ostrich buries his head in the sand! However, research reveals that this is false! Although from a distance, when ostriches’ feed, they appear to be burying their heads in the sand but actually a more mundane process is occurring. The reason they poke their heads into the sand is that they need to swallow sand and pebbles to assist them in the grinding up of their food as ostriches like chickens have no teeth!
Another strange fact cited about them is that they lay their eggs in a depression in the ground. But this seemingly reckless behavior is prompted by the simple fact that they are unable to fly and further, even if they could, there are few trees in the desert! Also these “nests” on the ground help preserve their potential offspring from predators.
When they detect an enemy, they lay their head and neck on the ground making themselves appear as a mound of earth and thereby protecting their eggs.
Reflecting on the ostriches and how we often misunderstand or misinterpret their behaviors, led me to ask myself: “Do I do that with people too?” Do I tend to rely on first impressions and fail to see or understand their possibly wonderful and unique qualities? I confess that I have a hard time “warming up” to a person who is grossly obese, or one who lacks basic hygiene, or individuals upon first acquaintance who violate my personal space.
As I learned a bit about the ostriches and came to better understand their behaviors to a degree, I came to appreciate them. It dawned on me that perhaps the same is true of people I meet! I need to strive to learn about them in order to understand and value their strong qualities and not rely on preexisting stereotypes. When I make an effort to do this, I will no doubt see each person more fairly and come to at least partially understand him/her, as I did with the ostrich. Amen!