Take the barn cats, the hardworking creatures who keep rodents away from horse feed. On warm nights, they are on duty all over the barnyard, keeping a wary eye out for invaders. Yet on a below freezing night, they are unseen, but they are still on duty. They just find cozy places in nature to hunker down where they can still keep an eye open. We just don't see it, but come morning they are back out in the yard doing their duty.
Now the big outdoor dogs are different. The Great Pyrenees have a double coat which keeps them toasty warm. And even in hot weather, that same coat keeps the dangerous rays away from their tender skin. If they stay in the shade in the cool of day, as they do, they do well. And come nightfall, they go on guard duty, protecting all things living on the farm that are part of their family, including we humans.
But nothing is more dramatic than the majestic bald eagle, many of which are found in the swampland surrounding us. And when they are in the process of training their young to fly, it is a clinic in parental responsibility. They know when the eaglet is ready to follow his own wings and from a treetop perch they can be seen gently edging the young bird down the branch to the point where it is fly or fall. It might sound cold and heartless, but it is important for the young bird to quickly learn to fly so that he might feed himself and avoid any chance of large predators finding him vulnerable.
As Papa nudges the young one along, it almost looks like he's talking to him and encouraging him. And then, when he reaches the jump off point, Papa backs off, allowing junior to make his own move. The young bird stops, looks back, and then takes the plunge. From the top of the large pine, he falls for about twenty feet with wings flailing until, like magic, the natural rhythm takes hold and the flailing turns to smooth soaring. The youngster is obviously excited and showing off, but after about two or three wide and elevation changing circles he responds to Papa's call to come home.
After a period of rest, the two birds, senior and junior, soar together and Papa begins teaching the smaller bird how to hunt. It doesn't take long for him to get the hang of it and then he is basically on his own. The mother eagle nurtured the young bird, the father taught him to fly and survive and the parenting is done. Eagles have no empty nest syndrome with the young coming back to mooch off "Old Mom and Dad."
It's a perfect example of where we can learn from the nature around us. Each of us as humans is expected to grow and develop into a self-sufficient being, capable of caring for ourselves. Good parenting plays a huge part in that. And just think of the reward. The child will be out in the world making a name for himself instead of chilling down in your basement.
Animals: They are all a great gift from God. And they can teach us a lot if only we take the time to watch and listen. Make that time in your daily life. You'll be glad you did.