In 2013, Nigel was lured to an island called Mana in New Zealand by scientists who wanted to start a gannet population. Nigel was a gannet, and a beautiful one at that; but unfortunately none of his kind followed him there. The scientists had set up cement decoys on cliffs and produced the sound that these birds make naturally. So, he was lured their becoming the first gannet to occupy this island in 40 years. And the only one.
In the absence of a love interest, Nigel became interested in one of the 80 statue decoy gannets. Poor little guy, he built her (it) a nest. He groomed her “chilly, concrete feathers….as this came naturally to him, and he did this year after year never receiving anything from this spouse but he faithfully continued doing what came natural to him for 5 years.”
This year the Washington Post reports he died. They found him next to her in that love nest, his vibrant orange plumage of his head contrasting with the weathered, lemony paint of hers or rather its….
They ask the reader, did Nigel die of loneliness? God did create them to live in community, so out of desperation in this false, stone world he was lured into he did what he could do to connect to a mate.
Poor Nigel… This little gannet brings to my heart two thoughts about God and the need for connection. Even for us humans, nature is great in teaching us about God and ourselves.
Yes, we are created for relationship, for belonging.
Yes, we are created for purpose and meaning in our lives.
Yes, we want to feel secure, safe and known by another
Yes, loneliness brings eventual death (research shows even in our elderly, those who live a long life have a community of others around them….)
Our God is a God of relationship, He loves us first, He calls us to Him first, He created us and knows us first. So, how important is the greatest command in Matthew 22:34: “You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So in our desperation to belong to someone do we forget the order of the Lord’s commandment? Do we unfortunately seek connection to the “Other” and end up with a cold, cement decoy like poor Nigel?
Does our heart forget that the first step is having a relationship with the Lord, with ALL your heart, soul and mind. ALL–not partly!!
When single young people talk to me about their failed past relationships that have left them in heartbreak, feeling alone and rejected, they tend to question their own self worth. I hear, “What’s wrong with me?”
The first step–the very first step, even before being accountable to our role in a failed relationship, is ”Child, come to the realization that you have forgotten your first love; you are out of order!!!!”
Love the Lord your God first. He alone is the One who knows you, understands your heart and knows all your needs.
We live in a society where we hunger and thirst for another human being to do this for us. WE engage, feel loved, understood, validated. But… when the “other” fails us, because they are human and cannot possibly fill all our needs and desires, we feel rejected, abandoned, alone. We frantically continue the unending search for “the One!” We continue the madness of never ending disappointments and sense of failure. We think in this society that this is normal??? STOP
God wants us to remember our first love, the greatest commandment before we can love and share life with another!
Once you connect with your Lord instead of wearing yourself out connecting to others, the Lord enlightens you to a healthier sense of who you are in Him, our Creator. With humility and love He shines the Light into the dark, hidden, shame-ridden places of our heart in a loving and tender way.
Then, we can acknowledge our own strengths, our gifts, and our weaknesses and continue our journey with Him, our Lord, who is our ALL.
Come to Him first! Nothing is wrong with you: you are just out of order and not listening to the Lord’s commandment to protect you from the idols and decoys of relationships in this world we live in.
Then we can connect to the “other” and see them as God sees him or her: as His beloved child. Then our expectations in our marriages , our relationships are grounded in belonging to Him first and thus being in Christ-centered marriages within the community of the faithful, the church family.