It was just another Monday, an ordinary non-eventful working day at the beginning of last week. That is until it was time to pack away my equipment in readiness to return home. With the ladders still under my arm, I spotted something unusual lying right in the middle of the footpath, and I was fortunate enough not to have accidentally stepped on it. After all my stuff were locked safely away, I returned to the spot to take a closer look.
It was a hatchling, presumed dead. I felt my emotion rise in pity for this poor thing. Probably no more than a few hours old, its red skin was still entirely without feathers, its tiny head, with just two dark circles for eyes, lying partly face down on the tarmac. As I took a closer look, I wondered how it had got separated from its mother and from the nest. Perhaps it might have been attacked by a cat and then abandoned. Or perhaps, with some species, it was bullied by an older, more stronger sibling. And with some other species, its own mother could have allowed it to starve to death as she focuses on her older, healthier offspring. But again, these were just speculations. The fact that it was where it shouldn't have been. Then I saw one of its legs move ever so slightly. It was alive!
Very carefully I scooped it onto the palm of my left hand. It struggled to move for a moment, its tiny head lying sideways on my palm, held by a thin, wrinkly neck to its body which was barely longer than an inch. As I looked it it, my emotions were high, I felt like crying. If only I knew exactly what to do to save its life. I took a closer look at it, even talking affectionately to it. Its featherless forelegs were already designed to give this creature something which no human can achieve without mechanical aid - the power of flight. I guess my arrival at that spot was timely. Being exposed, right in the middle of a tarmac footpath, and therefore making an ideal meal for a hawk flying overhead, or a snack for a golden eagle gliding above, or for that matter, easy pickings for an owl. As these birds are not so easily found in the South of England, instead it would have suffered the far more likely outcome of human-based destruction by being trodden underfoot or even crushed by the rolling wheel of a bicycle.
I wanted to take it home and nurture it. But I also wondered how my wife Alex might react to this creature in my hand. It was strange, that after nearly fourteen years of marriage, this was one area of our relationship we had never before faced. She could well have taken a quick glance and then shout aloud, Ugh! Get that thing out of the house! But instead, when she saw it lying helplessly in my hand, she too took pity and wanted to nurture it back to health.
We were stuck on how we were to go about it. Then it was her who suggested searching the Internet to find the best possible solution. So while we were searching the Internet, we also tried to seek advice from the R.S.P.C.A. over the 'phone, but were bitterly frustrated at the constant machine replies and verbal box-ticking, which left us no better off than if we had not picked up the 'phone. Eventually, a text came up on the computer that the hatchling should be kept in a safe container close to a source of heat, such as a hot water bottle, and its body covered, imitating the warmth its mother would have provided. As for feeding, tiny pieces of raw meat would have been suitable.
So I left all the care to my wife. The next morning I arose, went downstairs to check on the hatchling. Not only was it still alive (I expected it to have died during the night) but it was moving about at a much healthier rate than when I first found it. Maybe we were doing the right thing after all. Later that day, while I was still at work, I 'phoned Alex to find out how the hatchling was getting on, and her reply was close to tears. She had went out for a couple of hours to visit her mother, who knew a little about bird welfare, and when she returned home, she found the hatchling had died at her absence, and she had blamed herself for leaving it alone in the house. She waited until I arrived home, and I gave it a formal burial, with the spoken words, Rest in peace, little one. Yet I couldn't help feeling a rush of relief at the news of its death, the end of its suffering and its life returned to God who gave it.
But why was I so sentimental over this helpless creature? Why did I feel a slight sense of embarrassment in case someone was watching? Was this emotion unmanly? Un-British? A lack of stoicism? Was it a throwback from my schooldays where other boys would have considered my emotions "cissy" - while concentrating on their rugby, soccer, and other sporting and athletic endeavours - as well as acting tough at the playground in keeping with masculine characteristics? Indeed I knew straight away why I felt so emotional over the creature: the hatchling bore a stunning resemblance to a human foetus.
There is something about the cry of a newborn. In fact, there was an article in the newspaper a few years ago which reported on the results of a scientific research, that the sound of a baby crying affect our brains in a manner no other sound could achieve, not even from animals. There has always been something about a newborn which to this day strikes a chord within my spirit. When the baby cries, my emotions rise with the sound.
Jesus seemed to have agreed. In speaking of young children, he said theirs is the Kingdom of God. He also said that unless we become like a child in spirit, we will never enter the Kingdom of God. And talking about our comparison with birds, he reminds us that God takes special care in feeding the birds. So this demonstrates that the Father cares for them. Then he went on to say that we as individual humans are worth more than five sparrows. One of the most demonstrative examples of the Father's care for children, particularly the unborn, is found in Luke chapter one. Here Elisabeth was six months pregnant with a male foetus who will grow up to be John the Baptist. When Mary arrived at her house, with the embryo of the Lord Jesus only just conceived, the baby in Elisabeth's womb leaped for joy. Even in the Old Testament, there was a case of one un-named newborn who died of an illness only seven days after he was struck down (2 Samuel 12:22-23.) His father, King David made a statement that one day he will go to him, but he cannot return to earth to be with his Dad. In other words, the child went to Paradise, the abode of the righteous dead, (Luke 16:22-23; 23:42-43) most likely as he would have looked as an adult, where he remained until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Job lamented over the day he was born, citing that had he died either in the womb or at birth, he would lay at rest, even among the graves of the rich, the oppressor and the slave. He would not have grown up to see all the sorrows and the troubles of the world around him, nor see the unfairness of life or the hypocrisy (Job 3.) But God's love required that Job grew up to learn all about those experiences and to go through them himself, suffering grievous loss of both health and wealth, so that in redemption, God can show his awesome power. So every child is precious to God, a fact confirmed in the Gospel of John, where it's said that the light of Christ shines into everyone born into the world (1:4,9.)
If the un-named son of David has anything to go by, there must be more people in Heaven who got there through miscarriages (spontaneous abortions), stillbirths, and in modern times, elective abortions, than those who consciously believed in Jesus Christ as Saviour. In preparation of this blog, I went to the Internet to collect some statistics on the number of elected abortions undertaken each year in England and Wales. The average round number of abortions taken in a year were 200,000, with 201,576 in 2006; in 2007 - 205,598 abortions took place, the highest in British history. Then there was a slight decline, with 202,158 in 2008, and in 2009 - 195,743. Finally in 2010, there were 196,109 elective abortions. Therefore in the five years between 2006 and 2010 inclusive, there were a total of 1,000,751 elective abortions in England and Wales alone, not including those from the rest of the world, or from 1967 when elective abortions were legalised in the UK, nor of the abortions done since, such as 196,082 in 2011. Being curious with the maths, I wanted to work out how the annual statistic worked out in hours. With 8,760 hours in a year, I'm pretty sure that abortion centres were not operative during weekends and public holidays. This leaves 6,072 working hours in a year. Then consider that these centres are operative on a nine-to-five basis, as these operations are by appointment and are not prioritised as emergencies. This means that every hour of a typical weekday, around 98 abortions take place right across the country!
Here are a few snapshots of the results of an abortive foetus, I have included here to drive home the point. I apologise if you find these images distressing:
Then, according to the same statistics, 64.4% of women who underwent elective abortions were in the 20-34 age group, leaving the rest as either teenagers or those 35 years and older. Of the gestation period up to the operation, 77.7% were between 3-9 weeks.
And this, I think, is the main reason why such statistics makes me want to weep. Mainly social and career reasons. True, there were some operations done because the coming child had a high chance of being autistic, or having Downs Syndrome, or even something petty as having a hare-lip, which here in the UK, can be fixed by a simple post-birth operation. So I am aware that some of these mothers felt that they would not have coped with the responsibility of raising a disabled child. But to me at least, even taking disability into consideration, does not justify the killing of the unborn, unless for one exception, that the mother's life would have been endangered had the pregnancy was brought to term. As we had already seen, the Bible is clear that a child is a gift of God, and precious in his sight.
How much worse would it be for a woman to terminate her pregnancy for the sake of pursuing her career, gaining wealth, and to climb the social ladder. Believe it or not, the same statistic page also shown that just under half of all women undergoing abortion, or 49%, were living with a partner. This percentage seems to me way too high for health reasons alone. Others, perhaps was because a child would have got in the way of her social and working life had she been a single mother.
Yet the nation turns a blind eye at the multiple deaths caused by these operations. The foetus is removed and binned, like a used sweet (candy) wrapper. One law for the commoner, but a very different law for the British Royal Family, for example.
At the time of writing, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, is heavily pregnant with the third heir to the Throne. Now supposing Catherine decided to abort. What a national scandal this would have been! Newspapers would have splashed such a scandal across the front pages. The BBC and commercial channels on the TV and radio would have wanted to find out why. National sympathy would have been a possibility had her health been in danger. But national outrage if her pregnancy had got in the way of her duties, royal or career-wise, or her social life. One journalist after another would have written articles and blogs of condemnation. She would have been branded by the nation as selfish and downright nasty! As it is, she will be looked after in one of the nation's top private hospitals, and so we are told, soon after the birth, and when both mother and child are ready for discharge, the baby will be held up high at the world famous Buckingham Palace balcony, facing the Mall, crowded with over a million people. In reality, the five years of abortive operations carried out between 2006 and 2010 inclusive would mean a dead foetus for every person standing at the Mall, as was the case during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Over a million see the Royal Family from the Mall. One dead foetus for every person standing there!
I guess that because the UK has a monarchic system, the very fact of the need for the dynasty to continue makes the English ferociously hypocritical! That is a fact - that if Catherine was married to a plumber, and wanted an abortion, such news would not even have made it to the corner of a local newspaper page. Not in the public interest. Meaning, nobody would care less. But being married to the Prince, second in line to the Throne, and the nation waits in anticipation, some praying fervently that nothing will go wrong during the birth.
Now, I'm not against the Royal Family. About two years previous to this, I wished William and Catherine a happy future together in one of my blogs. As people, I have nothing against them. Furthermore, it is my hope and intent that the birth of Catherine's baby will be flawless and the child healthy. But I weep over the demise of millions of foetuses who God says he favoured and had the full right to live.
But to them, as with the hatchling I found on the path last week, I say:
Rest in peace, little one.