Monday, July 5, 2010

Response to Canaries with Gray on Their Wings

Last month's home teaching message retold a story by Pres. Monson about a widow who had three canaries. When she died, she instructed that
Two, with perfect yellow coloring, were to be given to her friends. The third, Billie, had yellow coloring marred by gray on his wings. Sister McKee had written in a note to me: “Will you and your family make a home for him? He isn’t the prettiest, but his song is the best.”
My first thoughts and the discussion we had when our home teachers came over to tell us about it centered on identifying our strengths and making them shine. I heard several other people respond to the story in a very similar vein. We all have at least one talent, though some are more visible than others, and we need to let them shine.

We do well to focus our attention more on our strengths than our weaknesses. We do better to focus our attention more on other people's strengths than on their weaknesses. Give praise and thanks where it's due and all that.

There's one little thing we forgot: this is Pres. Monson we're talking about. The young Tommy raised pigeons. PIGEONS, for crying out loud. Compared to canaries they aren't merely "not the prettiest," they're downright ugly. Outwardly, they are failed doves. They fail as songbirds too: having never learned to whistle, they are content to hum. They scavenge in cities and poop on statues and ... for some reason, Tommy loved them.

The canary had nothing to prove. It did not need a "strength" or a "talent" in order to be loved, accepted, appreciated, and honored in the Monson household. Not because it was any better than the pigeons, but because the Monson household was one of love where birds and people could be accepted in and through and because of their weakness, rather than despite it.

The canary couldn't do anything about the gray in its wings. There is no canary Rogaine. Some of our weaknesses are going to be very long term, and the fact is that our weakness (not weaknessES, but weakness) is part and parcel of our mortality.

The sooner and more fully we can love ourselves in and through - yes, even because of - our weakness, the happier we will be. The more we can love others in their weakness, the happier we all will be.
The Redeemer chose imperfect people to teach the way to perfection. He did so then. He does so now—even yellow canaries with gray on their wings. He calls you and me to serve Him here below. Our commitment must be total. And in our struggle, should we stumble, let us plead: “Lead us, oh lead us, great Molder of men, out of the darkness to strive once again.

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