Saturday, April 13, 2013

Uniquely Beautiful

a  "roadrunnner"poses for a picture at the desert retreat house 

Unless you live in the desert or have spent time in the desert, it's unlikely that you've seen this bird up close and personal. I met my first roadrunner last year on a desert trail. Up until then, the only roadrunner I had ever encountered was an animated cartoon character from my childhood days.

Yesterday as my wife and I (along with our two dogs) were in our courtyard reading, a roadrunner came and perched on our wall. Usually they scurry off if you get too close - especially at the sight of dogs - but not this one. She just sat there and we both looked at one another. So I asked her if I could take her picture, and as I was snapping this shot,  I knew what I would write about today.

A roadrunner is unlike any other bird I've ever seen. In fact, roadrunners are similar to other birds but also very different. Roadrunners don't pick at seeds or flowers, they are meat-eaters, feeding on other smaller birds or rodents.  Roadrunners have wings and feathers but they don't actually fly, rather they run, scurrying along on their two feet (hence their name), and they flap their wings to hop over fences or into trees.  And roadrunners sort of sound like birds, but the low guttural clucking they make is a far cry from the sweet chirping birds that wake me up every morning.

Roadrunners are very hard to categorize. I would say they are an "odd" creature but,  far from being odd, they are "uniquely beautiful." And herein is a lesson that the desert has taught me once again.

When I was a college professor, I taught several courses in Interpersonal Communication, and I often recited a basic "rule of thumb" about relationship-building. I would regularly advise my students, "Look for differences in similarities and similarities in differences." In other words, whenever you think you understand someone, or whenever you move toward categorizing another, placing them into a box of other similar people, look for differences. And whenever you see another as different, look for how they are similar. See each person as uniquely beautiful.

Yesterday as that little creature posed for a picture, I thought about "similarities in differences and differences in similarities." All of us human beings - all God's creatures, great and small- so uniquely beautiful.

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