“There is Safety in the Thorns” by Reva Lachica Moore

There’s Safety in the Thorns by Reva Moore

(Note: I just saw this bird’s nest on the P of the Pharmacy sign and wondered – Why would a bird build a nest on spikes? Then I remembered writing this Sharing Time 12 years ago and wish to share with you.)

Through the ages, man has always aspired to build solid and safe structures. Safe from the harsh elements—tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. Man would go to extremes in spending time, effort and means to achieve his plans.

During our visit to the Hoover Dam, our tour guide repeatedly stated that the thickness of the concrete at the base of the 726.4 ft. dam is as thick as two football fields. So much concrete (around 5 million barrels) were poured into blocks of vertical columns (and arranged like giant Lego sets) to build it.

The amount of concrete used could pave a standard highway, 16 feet wide and 8 inches thick, from San Francisco to New York City. Or build a four-foot-wide sidewalk that would go around the earth at the equator. Besides concrete, some 840 miles of steel pipes and fittings are part of the support of the massive dam.

The builders made sure that Hoover Dam stays safe while Lake Mead puts out water to its tributaries in a regulated rate. There is enough water in this man-made lake to cover the whole state of Pennsylvania to a depth of one foot.

“Hoover Dam was made to last for 200 years. After that we don’t know what will happen. We will have to do something to keep everything and everyone safe,” the tour guide said.

While he spoke, I couldn’t help but notice the water seepage through the rocks, which told me how powerful water can really be. I marvel at man’s ability to build massive structures that can withstand nature’s forces.

As our tour bus headed back toward the city, we passed a botanical garden near the EM Chocolate Factory. I spent time at the garden looking at all types of cacti. The Saguaros, Prickly Pears, Golden Barrels, Arizona Organ Pipe cacti fascinated me.

As I turned the corner of the garden to go back to the bus, a bush-like cactus covered with a profusion of sharp spines caught my eye. It was not the beauty of the plant that captivated me, but rather what was on it. On two branches of the Jumping Cholla Cactus were birds’ nests. Questions started to crowd my mind. Why would a bird build a nest on a thorny cactus? Why not on a regular shrub or tree? I walked around to check the other regular shrubs and trees to see if there were nests in them. I did not find any. The nests were small, which told me that small birds like sparrows could have built them.

Back at the resort that afternoon, I walked over to the courtyard to take pictures when I saw a similar sight. A dense, straw-colored Cholla Cactus (Teddy Bear Cholla), around three feet high and with millions of thorns held two large birds’ nests.

Again, my curiosity grew. I called JR to show him the nests. Why build a nest in a thorny cactus? Why not in an ordinary shrub? The nests were only a foot or so high from the ground. Fine pine needles lay intertwined in the bottom portion of the inside of the nests, while thick, tiny twigs made up the rest of the nests.

When JR stuck out his hand to touch one of the nests, he got pricked. Not by the thorns of the cactus, but by a thorny vine that lay on the top portion of the nest. As if the clever nest builder had strategically placed the thorny vine on the nest opening for protection.

I wanted to know what kind of birds made those nests. Then I saw them. They were all around the fountain near the nest. A few of them were still hatchlings. Gambel’s Quails—common in the dry dessert of the Southwest. They spend most of their time on the ground. They usually forage in the morning and late afternoon when they join together with several families called “conveys.”

Gambel’s Quails have a bobbing manner of walking and scurry quickly beneath desert vegetation to stay out of sight of hawks and other predators. They disappeared into the bushes when I walked toward them. Amazingly, if one of the quails becomes separated from its comrades, it gives out a loud, high-pitched location call, “chi-Ca-go-go,” that has an almost questioning quality, as if to say, “Where are you, guys?”

I marvel at man’s ingenuity, but I marvel more at the skill and creativity of God’s tiny creatures like the Gambel’s Quails. The nests, though only a foot from the ground, were safe from predators. A snake will not slither on the thorny branches to get to the nest. Nor a cat would dare place its paws across a thorny branch.

There is safety in the thorns for the baby birds in the nest. As I pondered on this concept, a most awesome thought came to me–the “crown of thorns” that our Savior wore on the Cross. For us, there is also “safety in the thorns” if we believe and trust in the One Who died for us on Calvary.

Mark 15:17 “And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head…”