July 15, 2010Have you heard the story about the quarrel of the quails? This tale is of quailer and his wife who live in the woods about five miles from the nearest village. The gentleman made his living by hunting quail. His wife helps by preparing the birds for sale in the village market.
They were quite successful for a two-person operation. That is, until they encountered a very intelligent quail.
Early one morning, "Quincy" Quail gathered his feathered friends and presented a plan that would save them from the quailer. "I've been watching the quailer very carefully for the last two weeks, and I know what his routine is.
"He comes to one of the larger bushes at the edge of the clearing, waits until our brothers and sisters are roosting, and then quickly throws the net over the bush. His quickness catches the quail by surprise and they are history…on their way to the village to become a fine meal for someone.
"Here's the plan. We'll gather in the bush and wait for the quailer. When he throws his net over the bush, each of you are to pick up a piece of the net in your beak. On a signal from me, we will all fly off the bush. When I give the next signal, drop the net and some of us will hold up a corner of the net so that we can all escape."
Well, the plan worked beautifully. There was such unity of purpose that the plan continued for days and days. One afternoon, in the middle of the third week, the quail gathered at their bush. The quailer appeared with his net, sure that, careful as he might be, he would go home with another empty bag. But he decided to try one more time.
Over the bush went the net. The quail grabbed the net in their beaks.
Just as the leader quail prepared to give the signal to fly, the plan fell apart. One of the quail accused another of stepping on his foot. This angry exchange led to another accusing a quail of grabbing her piece of net.
There was so much shouting among the quail that no one heard Quincy give the signal to pick up and fly. They were doomed; trapped in their own selfish interests and petty disagreements; too busy jockeying for position.
Personal priorities, selfish ambition, prestige, conceit…how often they destroy our fellowship with one another. The Apostle Paul tells us "we need to adopt a different attitude: In our faith journey, attitude is everything. Our temperament must always be that of Christ.
Follow the example God gave you…humility, obedience, servant-hood, counting all others as better than ourselves; subjecting our will for the good of the whole. Go and do likewise!"
Imagine what might be resolved in our lives as fellow citizens of this world if we were to put aside pride, personal ambition at the cost to others, and bickering for the sake of arguing?
Judith A. May is pastor of Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church.