While farming, my husband was out on his tractor in the field when he accidentally ran over a partridge. She was killed, but left behind was a nest with her eggs. He thought the kids would enjoy seeing the nest, so he brought it back to the shop. Days later, after having forgotten about it for a while, he was bringing the nest home to show the kids and an egg fell and broke open. He was so surprised to discover a live chick inside! Despite days with no heat and no mom sitting on the nest, there was still life. So he decided to throw the nest with the eggs under a lamp in the shop. It was less than ideal conditions for the eggs, as sometimes they would have heat from the lamp, and at times be forgotten again while the lamp was used for something else. But after a time, another egg was opened to check for life. Another chick inside was still developing- still growing, still fighting to survive.
Eventually the nest made its way into our back entry, where it was placed under a heat lamp, and a little home was made around the nest to hopefully welcome some baby partridges. We took a video as the babies began to break their way into the world. It was so exciting to watch this passage take place, and we were delighted when two little babies survived, peeping and bobbing around. We had food ready and we fed them every three hours with a little dropper. I learned how to hold their little tiny heads and how to put just the right pressure, in just the right place so that their little tiny beaks popped open. Then I would drop the little drops of food into their mouth. Just a few drops and their little bellies were full!
It was so fun to learn all about them. We learned what kind of home to make them, what to feed them, and how to set them free into the wild when the time came. I was tired from getting up even in the night to feed them and it was a big responsibility to be there every 3 hours to make sure they were nourished. But I loved them. They were exciting, strong, and yet fragile little beings, so dependant. I felt very important in my role of keeping them alive, yet realizing that their life was a miraculous gift from God. They would not be breathing, unless God has made it so. The next step was to teach them how to eat on their own. It was recommended that I get little baby chickens so that the partridge could learn from the chicks how to peck his own food. It was also time to move from the “baby formula” to a seed. Sadly, one of them died. He had some issues from the start and was not able to survive. But we still had one, and it was time for him to learn to eat.
We brought five little chicks, into our back entry and we placed the feed on the floor. Then we placed the partridge with the chicks. The chicks were busy eating already, completely consumed by it actually. But when we placed the partridge in their midst, he bee-lined over to one of the chicks, and nuzzled in close. He continued to push and squirm and nuzzle until he had gotten under the chick’s wing. The tiny chick looked quite huge in comparison to our baby partridge. The chick didn’t even seem to care or notice, and just kept on eating. The little partridge just kept step and kept himself tightly tucked under the wing. It was so precious! I saw that although I provided heat, and safety, shelter and nourishment, I had not been able to provide this much needed contact, this much needed wing. Watching our little partridge nuzzle under the wing was like watching it find home. It found what it had been longing for. I realized how sad his life had been without his mom. And soon he learned how to peck and eat. He became quite pro at it. We no longer had to feed it and he was happily finding his place in his new family of chicks.
I really thank God for this picture. The Bible talks about us being safe tucked under the wing of the Almighty. But until I saw the little partridge bury himself there, I don’t think I valued that picture much. But after that, I saw how there is this place we long for, this home, this momma bird, this touch, this comfort, this belonging that all of us crave so much. We can have food, and shelter and basic needs, but until we find our place, tucked under His wing, we are so vulnerable, so fragile and so lacking. But once we discover it, we will nuzzle in, and wiggle and keep step, just so happy to find this great spot to be. All the other needs are secondary. Sometimes now, as I am afraid, or sad, I think of this picture. I think of my Father, lifting His wing and offering me His comfort, His protection, His love, Himself. I think of how I am welcomed to nuzzle in and enjoy His presence.
I also think of how so many of our lives are like the life of this partridge. We are meant to have a certain environment to thrive. A man who worked in a partridge hatchery was absolutely amazed at our story of our little survivor. He said partridges are so hard to hatch. They need just the right heat at just the right intervals and the eggs need to be rotated. And even with all the scientific strategies working for them, partridges are hard to hatch. I think of how we are meant to be in our nests with our mom’s right there, protecting us and feeding us and tucking us under her wing. There are so many stages and details that need to go just right so that we can thrive. We are meant to have these ideal conditions, but I think most of end up more like our partridge. There are detours, and disruptions, and we get tossed around. And even as we survive it all, and maybe even have our basic needs like food and shelter, we will just be scared little birds until we find our Wing. I think too, of how much we love finding that wing, and how we are left for a time to develop that hunger and deep desire for the Wing. Some of us experience the wing, but then decide to check life out, without it. It feels a bit invasive perhaps. Or we feel a bit too sheltered. But usually we discover that life lived outside the shadow of His wing, is not a good place to be at all.
I think what I learned is that I take that place for granted. I learned that I have stopped appreciating how great it is, and how much I need to be nuzzled close to my Heavenly Father. I got to see a beautiful picture of how important that place actually is… and I love it that my Heavenly Father lifts His wing and offers me a place close beside Him. Unlike the chick who wasn’t that interested, the Heavenly Father is interested in showing us our need for that place, and then offering us the shelter of that place.
Contributed by Mara Veldman