But then birds wake up. Their calls fill the air. Hundreds perhaps thousands of birds fly about through the trees. Bird droppings fall like rain drops.
Yes. The bayou can be a messy place.
It can be a messy place for the birds too.
Its amazing to know how the birds nest - the smaller birds nest near the bottom of the trees where the branches are large and strong, and the larger birds nest at the top were the branches are small, and a balance act goes on continuously.
Right in the middle of the stack of birds is the Egret. They have long black legs and long yellow beaks and their feathers seem to glow they are so white. It's hard to understand how this bird can be so clean knowing that garbage falls all around them constantly. The birds in the nests above them drop their crawdad shells, rotten fish, broken eggs, tattered feathers, fish oil, slime, and of course lots of bird droppings falling like rain drops.
Did you know the Egret has special feathers or plumes that at one time were so sought after that an ounce of feathers were worth more than an ounce of gold? Ladies in the late 1800's wanted these two foot plumes to adorn their hats, so beautiful were the feathers.
Would a lady have wanted these feathers if the bird was filthy? Would she want to be associated with such a bird? No. The bird was beautiful...even when there was garbage all around them. They were constantly cleaning themselves. They didn't stand for dirt. They quickly get rid of it.
And just like garbage fell all around the Egret. Garbage falls all around us. I'm not talking about the garbage left after basketball and football games. I'm talking about moral garbage. Things we see and hear.
We need to be like the Egret and not stand for the dirt that is all about us. That's where the character trait of Virtue comes in. Virtue is doing right. Choosing right.
There are five parts of virtue
to help us guard against the garbage all around us:
1. Abstain or stay away from anything that would pollute or damage my mind.
Never underestimate the influence of drugs, alcohol, pornography, and nicotine. Many see the affects of these substances in the lives of loved ones. We have a choice to say no to them. Decisions made now have a huge affect on the future.
2. Treat others as I would want to be treated.
Do you like your hair being pulled? Do you like to be shoved, or pushed? Do you like to be treated dishonestly? Do you like being called names? All these things show disrespect.
Do you like it when people treat you kindly...when they open the door for you when your hands are full? Take the initiative and be the first to be kind and considerate to other people. This also shows respect.
3. Do what is right and encourage others to do the same.
We need to be like a bunch of yummy grapes. Do you go to the grocery store and buy withered, wrinkly grapes with bits of brown around the stems. No way. Yuck. Of course you buy the best looking, plumpest grapes you can find.
Farmers worked hard to make grapes enticing to buy.
Grapes good soil to grow in. We need to grow in good soil too. We need right influences in our lives. We need good friends. We need to read good books. We need to listen to good music and watch good TV.
Grapevines need sunlight. We need to be honest with parents, teachers, and friends. No sneakiness allowed when we work on honesty.
Grapes need fences to grow so they don't get stepped on, and so they don't rot in the dirt. We need rules. Without good rules there would be chaos at school, at home, on the road...everywhere.
Grapes need water. We need good habits of doing right. Pay attention, share, forgive, and clean up after ourselves.
Grapes need pruning. We need to cut things out of our lives that cause problems and take energy away from what is important. Staying up too late and falling asleep in school? It's time to cut that out of our lives and have a bed time.
We need to work at being like a nice yummy bunch of grapes.
4. Learn to stand alone.We need to develop courage and boldness to help us say no to things that are not good for us. Somewhere along the way in life we need to be taught what is right so we can recognize what is wrong and stay away from it.
5. I will guard my eyes, ears, words, and thoughts. Things heard and seen can strongly affect a person. That horror movie? Is it causing you to not want to walk down the hall by yourself, or sleep in your own bed, or not want to go outside by yourself? Be like those monkeys that are covering their eyes, ears, and mouth. See no evil, hear no evil, and say no evil.
We need to be like the beautiful Egret, too, and work constantly to keep ourselves clean from the garbage all around us.