This week’s story is about a bird who is not native to these islands, but I’m pretty sure you know about them. Some do live here. This story is about a peacock.
Have you seen one?
I need to mention that since the beginning of Creation all the way up to the present day, there has never been such a thing as a humble peacock. Not one.
I guess they’ve got good reason. Their chests and necks are covered with feathers so blue that the sky looks down in awe. They wear a crest on their heads with is daring and delicate. And when they spread their tails in a great fan of feathers, those eye shapes glow as if with their own light.
It’s hard to say anything other than that they’re magnificent.
The peacock I want to tell you about was widely acknowledged to have the finest tail fan of his generation. The blues and greens were deeper, and they glistened brightly. There were silvers and golds in the eye patterns that were unique, and somehow the fan felt fuller, with less transparent gaps, than any of his fellows.
Among a species of magnificence, he was at the top.
He became concerned over the years, however, as he saw signs of wear begin to appear on the tails of other peacocks. He’d married a very nice peahen, and they’d raised a number of chicks during that time. But he noticed that time was not being kind to the tails of other peacocks.
Some were less careful, perhaps, to keep their tail feathers out of the dust or even muddy areas, and the dirt would dull their glistening feathers. A quick rinse would take care of most of that, but then there were other problems. The dirt would also pull at the feathers themselves, tearing away the little bits that made the fan connected.
The eye patterns would lose their shape sometimes when brambles or branches pulled the barbs of the feather apart, and sometimes pulled them away, leaving gaps.
The worst seemed to happen as a peacock opened his tail into that great fan. Hooks on the barbs would catch in the wrong place, hauling the feather out of shape. Feathers would cross each other, causing more damage.
Worst of all, the peacock considered, was when a bird lost a tail feather or two, and fanned his tail anyway. He didn’t approve of leaving those holes.
So he stopped displaying his tail.
It wasn’t enough, he thought, to carefully carry his tail above the dust and dirt, or open it gently to the eyes of others. An open tail came with the risk of wind guests, and sudden rain, and a score of other dangers. He kept his tail tightly closed.
A new generation of peacocks grew up with the stories: “This bird over here has the most amazing tail fan I’ve ever seen.” The tale-tellers would describe the appearance as they remembered it.
Their hearers, I regret to say, didn’t entirely believe them, and certainly didn’t understand that their glowing descriptions didn’t do justice to the stunning reality. The tail became a legend that could not be demonstrated, a glory that was cloaked in words.
None of you are peacocks, but you do have wonders about you: perhaps you sing, or build things, or paint things. Perhaps you are good at kind words; perhaps you have a wide, friendly smile. Those things are meant to be shared, not hidden away.
I hope that you’ll have the courage to risk your talents to the world: Risk singing, or painting, or helping, or smiling, or whatever you have to share.
Have courage. Share it. And let this peacock be the last creature to be afraid to share his gifts.
Photo Credit: By Alex Pronove (alexcooper1) – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=452220