One spring, inspired by a friend, I placed a bluebird box in our backyard. The reward came in a matter of days. Two bluebirds began to gather material for their nest. I was moved to tears. I was told if I built it, they would come–and they did!
Wednesday, June 17th evening services at the U.S. Charleston, South Carolina, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopalian (AME) Church, had been eagerly anticipated. Inside this civil rights landmark building, a dozen happy members of the Emanuel family settled in for their weekly Bible Study. A video camera captured the image of a 21-year old white male entering the church. For an hour, the stranger sat next to the senior pastor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, before he brandished his .45 caliber pistol and announced his intentions to shoot. His stated motive: He wanted to start a race war. All nine victims were African-American. The Charleston Church shooting was the worst mass murder at a religious site in the U.S. since 1991.
Another season of bluebird watching was underway when I noticed I had been missing my feathered friends. I thought they would have little mouths to feed and be flitting in and out of their box, but I saw nothing. Upon investigation, I saw it–bluebird feathers. Near the small front portal were scratch marks as if some claws had dug into the wood. My heart sank. It became obvious the cat ate the bluebirds.
When we took two young felines into our home then erected the box, I had no clue I was preparing a death trap, but that is what it was. Like the saints in the church in Charleston, the birds had no escape. The young intruder, Dylann Roof, saw an opportunity to do Satan’s bidding. That night, Emanuel A.M.E. became a slaughterhouse.
I refused to be a party to more bluebird deaths. The cats were staying around and they sure weren’t going to alter their appetite for birds. So a decision was made; no more box. End of story? No, the birds found a hide-out inside our grape arbor. That year they raised their young under the cover of grape leaves. Moral of the story: By removing the box, bluebirds will find a means to avoid “cat-astrophe” and multiply in the process.
In September 2013, seventy died in a Taliban shooting attack on worshipers at the Peshawar Church in Pakistan. Early April of this year 147 perished at morning prayer services as Islamic terrorists from Somalia fired on unarmed, defenseless students at Garissa University in Kenya.
I know we love our church boxes, but has it occurred to anyone they are no longer safe? Murderers have keyed in on an easy target. Wake up people! How much more elderly and child’s blood will stain the pews before we find cover outside the box? Maybe Jesus’ followers will begin again to multiply as they should.