ISSUES OF FAITH: The sparrow and the storm: A fable for our times

Once upon a time, not very long ago and not very far away, a terrible darkness fell over the land.

It lasted a long time and had a negative effect on everyone.

People lost jobs, marriages broke up, and many had to find a new place to live — including a sparrow and her family.

The sparrow and her family had heard that faith communities were usually good places to go for help and that they often had nice places to build a nest.

So, the sparrow and her family went to a big, beautiful church and she asked, “May I build my nest here?”

But the people said, “Oh no, this is already a very busy church. If we let you build your nest here then we’ll have to let all the birds build their nests here, and it will just get too crowded!”

So, the sparrow said, “My children are tired, and we must find a home. We will go to another place.”

So, the sparrow flew to another house of worship and asked the people, “May I build my nest here?”

And the people said, “We don’t think so. You’re very dirty and your feathers are all ruffled. Our house of worship is beautiful and clean! If you go get cleaned up somewhere, maybe you may build your nest here.”

But the sparrow said, “My children are tired, and we must find a home. We have no time to find a bath. We will go to another place.”

So, the sparrow flew with her children to a third place and asked the people, “May I build my nest here?”

And the people looked at her and her children and said, “We don’t know you, and we don’t know if you’re a good sparrow or a bad sparrow. You’re a stranger, so we’re sorry, but you may not build your nest here.”

The sparrow replied, “If you let me build my nest here, you would get to know me, and I would no longer be a stranger. But I can see I am wasting my time here. My children are tired, and we must find a home. We will try one more place.”

The sparrow was beginning to wonder if faith communities were very good places after all.

The sparrow and her children were very, very tired.

They got to a fourth congregation — this one with lovely buildings, trees and parking lots.

It was a simple campus with no big steeple, but the people there had all had a hand in building it. And so, the sparrow asked the people with a tired voice, “May I build my nest here?”

The people gathered around the sparrow and her children.

One person said, “Well, we only have one shower for all of us, because so many of us also lost our homes, so we will have to share.”

And another said, “We are a very busy place so sometimes it’s not very quiet here, and we might accidentally keep your children awake.”

And one more said, “But you’re welcome here.”

The sparrow remained silent, with her children huddled around her. But then all the people said together, “We can’t meet all your needs, but we hope that you will stay with us and make your nest here — at least for a while.”

So, the sparrow stayed.

The people there showed them so much kindness that she and her children sang all day from the top of the roof. And because there was always such happy music coming from this place, everyone thought it was the most sacred place in town.

________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [email protected]

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