Friday, March 5, 2010

from my back verandah: the joy of cockatoos

On summer evenings, when my husband and I watch a DVD, we have to shut the windows or turn up the volume. Outside, the sulphur-crested cockatoos are coming home to roost in the lemon-scented gums behind our house.

They wheel and circle, screeching, as they descend from the sky. They fly in flocks, screeching, from one tree to another. They cling to the branches and raise their yellow crests, screeching, as they argue over the best roosts.

In the morning, as the sky lightens, they stretch their wings, utter an experimental squawk or two, then wake the dawn, screeching. They rise into the air, lemon-tinted wings catching the sun, screeching. They race one another to the day's food source, somewhere north-east of here, still screeching.

I love the cockatoos. I love their squat white bodies and ridiculous yellow crests and knobbly grey feet and beady intelligent eyes. I love their abandoned playfulness and complete lack of self-consciousness and swaggering confidence. I love their joy.

They remind me that God was playful when he made the world. He didn't just make serious, imposing, beautiful animals like tigers and whales. He made ridiculous animals: elephants with their sagging skin, chameleons with their rotating eyes, cockatoos with their throaty screams.

The cockatoos remind me that God made the world, in part, for the sheer joy of it - his joy, the joy of his Son, our joy, the joy of every creature. We don't see it that way now, with the world shattered and broken (Rom 8:18-22). But one day that perfect playfulness will be restored. One day every creature will romp together in his new creation (Isa 65:25).

The happy screeches of the cockatoos, shattering the evening serenity, scattering the morning stillness, remind me to lift my eyes from my all-too-serious preoccupations and remember, if only for a moment, that we were all made for joy.

images are by SouthernAnt and Valley Guy from flickr

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