I came across this story recently...
A lady was intrigued by the beautiful young parrot on a perch by the counter of the local pet shop.
"Does he talk?" she asked the shop-keeper.
"Oh yes, he comes from a long line of good talkers. In a couple of weeks, he'll be having a conversation with you all right."
So she bought the bird - and a large cage - and took it home. A fortnight later she was back in the shop. "There's something wrong, he hasn't said a word yet!"
"I can't understand that, he was our best talker. He should talk when he swings."
"What? You didn't tell me about the swing!" So she bought a swing for the bird's cage. The problem persisted and she bought a ladder and a mirror...
Finally she came back with the cage containing the swing, ladder, mirror - and one dead parrot. "Here's your dumb bird and all that useless stuff you sold me. I demand my money back!"
The owner was shocked. "Lady, this is the first parrot that has ever come back. Didn't he say any words at all?"
"Well... yes... he did say one thing. He said, 'Doesn't... that... shop... sell... bird food?'"
Don't laugh too much! We have all been caught out some time or another failing to spot the obvious! And in some ways the story itself is rather too close for comfort!
Except, of course, that the bird actually knew what the problem was, whereas we seem to think we need all the gadgetry in the world when our real need is actually for soul food.
In the opening chapter of his Confessions, Augustine prayed, "You move us to delight in praising you; for you have formed us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you" (Conf. I, 1).
How often we misread our restlessness of soul! We try to fill it with every means possible - when we really need to know the Lord better!
How are you faring for "soul food" these days? for feeding on his Word to grow you in your relationship with God? for allowing him, by his Spirit, to empower you to reach out to others in the bit of world in which you live and work?
It may sound like saying the obvious, but it is the vital, life-giving obvious for all of us. Yes, and for me too!

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin Link, June 2000