dispatches to and from

nathan f. elmore

Dispatches to and from faith, culture, and things in between

The Parable of the African Mourning Dove

An animal kingdom re-mix of a story found in St. Luke’s gospel. Originally narrated in the Sunday gathering of Imago Dei on October 10th. Luke's story is here

Out along the bushveld in southern Africa, near a certain quarter of thicket beside a rocky outcrop, a solitary White Rhino grazed. This rhino was undaunted by the modern hunter, unimpressed with members of the Big Five and unfeeling toward any other creature in his habitat.

Every morning an African Mourning Dove with a missing wing – a bird who could not make a nest for herself in the surrounding Red Bush Willows – would peck at the White Rhino’s feet. As she did, she would point back with her wing to a scruffy, yellow-leafed Raisin Bush off in the short distance.

For one full lunar cycle the White Rhino ignored the incessant daily pecking of the African Mourning Dove. He went about his unbroken routine of finding that perfect patch of grass, grazing non-stop, and then lying in the sun all afternoon beside the ancient rocks.

Finally, one day as the sun was high overhead, after another irritating morning of having his feet pecked at by a maimed bird, the White Rhino relented. He began to plod in the direction toward which the African Mourning Dove had been pointing for days.

When the White Rhino arrived at the scruffy, yellow-leafed Raisin Bush, he saw a Brown Hyena pawing at what appeared to be a make-shift entanglement of twigs within the bush. The hyena was destroying the bird’s nest – and laughing all the way.

The White Rhino dropped his head and charged the Brown Hyena, flipping it high in the air with his majestic front horn. The African Mourning Dove slowly gathered her scattered twigs – with her lone wing – and began to put her nest back together.

Unnoticed by the animal kingdom, a family of human beings was watching from a Range Rover along a dirt road approximately a hundred meters away. In a flash, a stunningly elegant Lilac-Breasted Roller alighted on the hood. The bird was like an angel and began to speak to the humans in a language they could understand.

She announced, “A man whose kingdom is not far from here has told me to tell you: ‘Do not give up on pecking at the skies – and on waiting for the skies. And do not allow your heart to collapse all the way. You can be sure that I am quite different from a White Rhino in the bushveld. To hear your groans and tears at my feet is no bother. But when I come to you like the African Mourning Dove, what will I find?’”

At that, the Lilac-Breasted Roller gracefully flew away, disappearing over the heads of the giraffes who were chewing on the Red Bush Willows -- as the family in the Range Rover was left to wonder.

This parable is the second in a series of 2010 adaptations.