As far back as we can remember, Ryan has been deathly afraid of snakes. This was always in direct opposition to his brother, Rhett, who spent many a day hunting for a snake to chase, capture, and bring home. Rhett was completely fascinated by these reptiles, and Ryan absolutely HATED them. Ryan wouldn’t so much as step foot into the snake house at the zoo, and I could hardly ever get Rhett to leave the snake house. Taking them to the zoo was always a lesson in patience and “bipartisan parenting”. . . trying to appease both a snake lover and a snake hater in a single trip is a valid struggle!
Growing up, Ryan always feared that snakes were “in” or “under” his bed, and we spent many a night proving to him that there were no snakes in his room. This snake phobia prohibited peaceful sleep on many occasions. Therefore, Ryan has never seen a single reason for thinking that a snake might be of any use. . . that is, until a cardinal entered his life about four weeks ago.
For about a month now, a cardinal has been pecking on Ryan’s bedroom window. It is loud and persistent, and Ryan half loves/half despises this crazy bird! I’m pretty sure that Ryan never had any intentions of telling us about this nuisance of a bird. That’s just not how Ryan rolls. Ryan is the type of kid that doesn’t readily offer up information about the everyday events of his life. He is not being sneaky or sly. . . it’s just who he is.
For example, one time when he was in elementary, a helicopter landed on the school which was kind of a big deal. The other moms started talking about this event and I was clueless. When I confronted Ryan about this “big event” he said that I had never asked him if a helicopter had landed on his school. 🤔
I knew right then and there that I was probably going to be uninformed about many things in Ryan’s life. . . not because he was hiding things, but simply because he’s not one to get worked up over a situation.
So, of course, Ryan didn’t voluntarily tell us about this annoying cardinal either. We found out because one Saturday morning Jimmy discovered Ryan sleeping on the couch in the living room. He inquired as to why he wasn’t sleeping in his bedroom, and that’s when Ryan came clean about the bird in his life. He said that every morning, the same bird sits on his windowsill and pecks at its reflection and then repeatedly flies and crashes into the window. He said it’s not so bad on school days when he has to get up early, but it makes it dang near impossible to sleep in on non-school days.
Not long after he told us about this bird, I was gathering laundry one morning in Ryan’s room after he had left for school, and that’s when I had the pleasure of meeting the cardinal for myself. It was so adorable at first. I just sat and watched it peck and crash into the window. Soon, I started hearing this bird all day everyday. The “adorable” aspect waned as the constant tapping and banging increased. I figured it had to be driving Ryan crazy.
Last weekend, we took a two night family vacation to San Antonio for spring break. When we got home and started unpacking, Ryan came to the kitchen and said he had good news and bad news. I immediately figured he had left something at the hotel, but that wasn’t it at all. He announced that the good news was that “his bird” was still around, and the bad news was that “his bird” was still around. He clearly has a love/hate relationship with this feathered friend. He said he didn’t want to hurt it, but he had to come up with a plan to stop the nonsense. I was afraid if we didn’t find a solution, he was going to make this cardinal pay for its sins.
The only solution that any of us could come up with that would not harm the cardinal was to put a rubber snake on Ryan’s window ledge. In a moment of stellar parenting, we made Ryan carry the rubber snake through the rose bushes, braving the thorns on his journey, to place the serpent on the window ledge. I’m pretty sure it was a defining moment in his life, a rite of passage, where he faced his fears to bring about justice that would allow him to rest once and for all (both figuratively and literally).
We were all hopeful this would do the trick. Surely the cardinal had no interest in sharing a ledge with a serpent. . .
Maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but at this point, we have no choice but to explore the incredible irony associated with this cardinal event that has invaded Ryan’s life.
For starters, many people associate the sighting of a red bird with a visit from someone who has already gone to heaven. As much as we would all love to have a visit from our Rhett Jett, we do not for one moment believe that Rhett is visiting us in the form of a bird. We do recognize the beauty of this red bird which points us to a Heavenly Father who creates splendor and wonder all around us if we are willing to notice His glory! (And, let’s get real here! If Rhett had the ability to come back as an animal, he would have chosen to come back as a lion, a shark, or a rattle snake. . . but never a red bird.)
One thing Ryan has told me about losing his brother is that he hates not hearing Rhett getting ready in his room each morning. The boys shared an adjoining bathroom, and sometimes the silence, especially in the mornings, is hard on Ryan’s heart. Ironically, the constant slam-dancing of this cardinal into the window has put an end to the silence issue. I think the noise and entertainment is half-way welcomed. (Plus, this crazy, energetic, fun-loving bird occasionally must remind Ryan of his lively little brother.)
Next, the irony of a “snake” being the only thing that could possibly help Ryan get some sleep is beyond amusing. Ryan lost countless hours of sleep as a child because of his fear of snakes, and now he has one on his windowsill to help him be able to get some sleep. What a crazy turn of events! I can’t make this stuff up!
The one thing he feared the most, is the one thing that might have the ability to help him find some peace. Clearly, this could possibly be irony’s finest moment!
Lastly. . . you had to know that I would explore the irony of this bird sharing a ledge with a serpent. I mean, Duh! How can I call myself an English teacher and an aspiring Christian writer if I let golden opportunities of this magnitude pass me by?
How often do we get too comfortable with the “snakes” in our lives? Have we become desensitized to dangerous habits and harmful attitudes to the point that we are willing to let them take up residence in our personal space? Have we become so preoccupied looking at our own reflections that we fail to see the needs of others or the Enemy slithering up beside us? Have we become naive enough to think we can sit on the ledge and commingle with the serpent without getting bit?
If we can answer yes to any of the above questions, we have let our guard down and probably forfeited any possibility of obtaining genuine peace or rest in our lives. We must put on the armor of Christ and remain diligently aware of our surroundings. We must press in to Jesus because He desires to protect each of us from the craftiness of the devil. It’s important that we realize that small sins can often lead to “cardinal” sins. . . and it’s a slippery slope when we find ourselves sitting out there on that ledge right next to the serpent.
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:3
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11
“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Meet me in the confessional:
1. As you can see from the above pic collage, the bird has absolutely no fear of the snake. I often watch this bird actually sit on the rubber replica while it pecks and primps at its reflection in the window. 😂😂
2. I kind of hope Ryan’s cardinal sticks around. Next fall, I will have two empty rooms and no sons/boys living under our roof for the first time since I became a mother. 💔 I imagine that some noise coming out of Ryan’s room after he moves to ATM will be good for my soul.
3. Would it be wrong to put bird seed on both Ryan and Rhett’s windowsills in the fall? Asking for a friend. 😬