My Favourite Stories #87

Bell Birds and Lyres.

Australia has a Bellbird; it is actually a Myna. They annoy me intensely because they ding away like a bell nonstop. We also have the Superb Lyrebird which is an expert mimic. Able to copy both natural and mechanical sounds, the Superb Lyrebird composes these sounds into an inspiring song. Sounds can include anything heard in the bird’s surroundings, such as other birds, chainsaws, car engines, a baby crying, and even a dog barking! However, of all the strange imitating creatures living in the jungle, the mysterious bellbird of South Anerica is one of the uncanniest. Named for its reverberating call, which is perfectly bell-like in quality, this seldom seen phantom of the jungle is said to have lured many a traveler to his death.

This species of wattle birds is only found in Central and South America. They make their nests in hollow trees and feed on fruits that grow profusely in the Jungle. Seldom seen, because they inhabit the deepest stretches of the tropical rainforest, bellbirds are feared by jungle Indians, who think they are possessed by some evil power. This superstition is quite understandable in view of the strange and alluring call. Even Colonel Clark, one of the greatest modern explorers, who is well acquainted with jungle lore, writes of being almost irresistibly drawn by the distant tolling bell, when it was known to be only the call of a bellbird.

The fascination of this mysterious bird call is unexplainable. It affects those who know it is made by a bird, but the victim is usually a person who has lost his way and is searching frantically to escape the jungle. A distant bell tells him of civilization where there will be no danger of headhunters or savage beasts. Hope seems to be centred in the clang of that bell. But alas, the bell is always somewhere in the distance or behind him. He is led in a wide circle without realizing it. After a time, his one thought is to get to the bell; every fiber of his body is bent toward that deceptive goal. The ultimate end of the individual rests with the mercy of the jungle.

The world around me seems intent on being drawn, almost irresistibly, by the deceitful phantom bells that call them deeper into the darkness of life’s jungle. It may be strange ideas, it may be by someone who can fascinate with deceitful words that, heeded, lead to grave dangers. It is wise to carefully weigh each of life’s allurements to see where they may eventually take us. Remember the words of Jesus who said the devil is a murderous liar. (John 8:44) I listen to speakers sometimes and say to myself they are very gifted at saying nothing. Proverbs 12:17 says, “An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies.” (NLT) The Roman governer, Pontus Pilot asked the question “What is truth?” and then, ashe pointed to Jesus, answered his own question when he said to the crowd, “Behold the man!” (John 18:38 and 19:5).

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