The three doves arrived together. Attired in sedate grays, charcoal, and taupe, they reminded me of Victorian matrons gathering for high tea.
While one hung back on the rail–perhaps watching for a friend who was to arrive separately–the other two waddled directly to the bird feeder and happily helped themselves.
Happily, that is, until the larger bird began to stalk the other aggressively.
Who can say what started it?
Perhaps her companion told her the truth about that dress making her rear end look big. Or maybe she took the biggest sunflower seed–the very one the Queenie had her eye on.
Whatever the case, the aggressor meant business.
Some Girls Love Drama
I watched the victim back up one, two, three steps until she was standing on the table. Apparently, that wasn’t far enough because Queenie hopped off the feeder onto the table, sending the skittish dove to the rail.
Queenie didn’t stop there. Oh, no. She followed her prey onto the rail, landing close enough to intimidate without committing to a fight.
I watched the unfortunate recipient of her ire edge away while Queenie inched forward in pursuit.
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Just as I was considering opening the door to interrupt that nonsense, the third dove made her move. In a flurry of wings, she placed herself between the tormentor and her quarry and sat down.
Actually, I think the rescuer must have said something to Queenie because she suddenly acted all nonchalant–fluffing her feathers as if nothing had happened–like she was simply grooming herself.
Pretty soon, the rescuer began to preen, too.
And finally, the recipient of all that bad behavior relaxed and followed suit.
Looking for Insight
As I watched that little drama unfold, I wondered what had gotten into Queenie.
Did she get up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, perhaps succumbing to the Grumpy Winter Blues? It was a cold, overcast day.
Why didn’t the victim stand up for herself?
You can’t be against bullying
without actually doing something about it.
One Little Bird Can Make a Difference
I also thought about the courageous bird that stepped in. Who was this rescuer and why did she intervene? It’s not easy to challenge a bully. She risked being attacked herself.
And I noticed something else.
That incident did not break up the trio. They remained on the rail a long time afterwards as if taking in the view.
Who’s to say what transpired? Maybe Queenie made a quiet apology.
We Are Women, Watch Us Gather
I’m not an expert on the habits of doves, but I do know that women are social creatures. We join clubs and form groups. However, we all know that being in the same club doesn’t guarantee close friendship. In fact, sometimes we encounter people we simply don’t like or who don’t like us.
When not on our best behavior, women are usually more subtle in our rejection than Queenie. We may ignore that person, make snide remarks, or try to freeze her out in hopes she’ll get the hint and go elsewhere. We’ve all seen or experienced it. (That’s why “Mean Girl” movies are not categorized as fantasy.)
The Nature of Kindness
Kindness is always in order. Even the smallest act has the power to lift the bestower, along with the receiver. Sometimes it plants seeds of friendship, but even when it doesn’t, it will be remembered.
When we encounter mean-spirited behavior, I hope we’ll take a stand like my brave little visitor. I hope we’ll say something to stop it and befriend the target. Stepping up will probably stretch us, but the process will build our character.
I find myself praying for God to give me the courage to walk in the power of His kind of love.
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
Matt. 5:9 (MSG)