The little boy was running and playing in his yard after dinner when a stray parakeet swooped through his yard, landing on the fence.
The parakeet chirped and chatted.
The little boy was enchanted.
The boy quickly realized the parakeet was lost, for parakeets are not native birds in his area. He called his parents outside to help.
They tried and tried to catch the clever parakeet, but with each effort, the parakeet grew less trusting and finally flew away.
The boy was sad.
He tried everything to lure the parakeet back.
He sprinkled seed all around the fence and upon all the tables and chairs throughout the yard.
He fashioned gentle traps out of nets, shoe boxes, popsicle sticks, and string and waited hours for the parakeet to return.
But the parakeet was not to be found that night.
The next morning, the boy arose enthusiastic with more ideas to find and save his new friend.
He watched and waited all day.
He searched every tree and fence in the neighborhood.
The next day, the boy continued, determined to find and capture the lost parakeet.
The boy grew distraught.
He lost sleep.
Despite his parents' assurances that the parakeet must have found his way back home, the boy would not give up.
There had been no sight of the parakeet since that first night.
The boy's parents watched the boy, so sad, yet so determined.
After the boy went to bed on the third night, the parents, certain that the parakeet would never return, bought a parakeet just like the one who had visited and put it in the cage the little boy had prepared for his phantom friend.
When the little boy awoke the next morning and found the parakeet in the cage, he assumed it was the little lost parakeet. His parents did not correct him. It would be better that way, they reasoned.
The little boy spent much time with his new parakeet, making him toys and trying to train him.
The new parakeet wanted nothing to do with the boy. The bird bit and fought and refused to play with the boy.
After months of trying to be friends with the bird, the little boy gave up, lost interest, and left him alone.
The parakeet grew bored and lonely.
Realizing that the parakeet still needed a friend, the parents then bought another parakeet.
The lonely parakeet was so happy to meet his new parakeet friend.
They chirped and played and were as happy as could be. They shared toys and swings and flew and played all winter long.
One spring afternoon, the telephone rang. It was a worried neighbor. She had spotted a parakeet in her yard and needed help catching him.
The mother hurried over wondering whether it could possibly be the visitor from last summer.
It was the same turquoise parakeet that had visted all those months before. All those feet of snow before. All those freezing nights before. Miraculously, the parakeet had survived the bitter winter.
The bird, being nearly exhausted and starved after the long winter, was easy to catch this time.
The mother brought the parakeet home and watched with delight as the bird ate and drank and ate some more.
Then the bird fell into to deep sleep.
The bird slept and slept, waking only to eat and drink for a few moments at a time.
But what would the little boy think? He had thought the lost parakeet had been with him all this time. How would this be explained? How much would the boy realize?
When the boy came home from school, he noticed the sleeping bird in the small cage.
He smiled and looked on wonderously, thoughts visibly swirling about his head.
He watched and smiled.
And watched some more.
And then he said,
"It looks like God sent us another parakeet.
He must think we take good care of them."
The faith of a child.
Blessed are they who witness it.