“Pssst!” I looked around, but saw no one.

There it was again. The sound was coming from RIO, the parrot I introduced you to last week. “Is that you, Rio? You talking to me?”

“Yeah. Look, I read that thing you wrote in the Messenger.” “You read?” “There’s not much else to do when the humans are away.”

“So, here’s the thing. You got it right about how animals are not so much individuals, but more like a hive, or a colony, or a flock (like me and my peeps). You also nailed it about how seeing one individual as part of a whole species through many generations can help you understand birth and life, and even death. And you expanded that thinking to the whole plant and animal kingdoms, so that I’m just a tiny part of Life itself. That’s pretty good thinking. But look at this!”

“A mirror? All I see is me.”

“Yeah, man. It’s true of you as well. You guys are so focused on yourself, that you don’t realize that you’re connected with every other person who ever lived, with your pet dogs and cats, with the plants and animals that died to provide food so you can live.”

“Wait a minute; don’t lay a guilt trip on me.”

“No, that’s not the point. It’s wonderful. It’s a miracle. I mean you’re a miracle yourself, but Life, the whole throbbing, oozing, emerging totality of all animals and plants that have ever existed, is a supermiracle, and you’re only a little part of it. When you worship the God of You, praying only little bless-me prayers and thinking only of what affects your life, acting as if reality began when you were born and will end when you die, you’re not worshiping the true God, the God of all Life.”

“No, wait. There are plenty of verses in the Bible that are first-person, singular. I can and do have a personal relationship with God, on my own.”

“True, but modern American Christians are so hung up on individuality that they overlook the many Bible verses that talk about the solidarity of the human race and about how our spiritual destiny is more about ‘us’ than about ‘me.'”

“For instance.”

“OK, I’m going to quote a number of Bible verses, without explaining them. You’d better be ready, ’cause some people who read this are going to call and ask you for an explanation:

‘I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.’ (Deuteronomy 5:9-10)

‘As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 15:22)

‘Just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.’ (Romans 5:18)

‘You [plural] are God’s field, God’s building. . . You are God’s temple.’ (1 Corinthians 3:15-16)

‘If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.’ (1 Cor. 7:13-14)

‘As the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. . . . God has so arranged the body. . . that, if one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.’ (1 Corinthians 12:13, 24-27)

‘We are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. . . So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!’ (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)

‘You are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.’ (Ephesians 2:19-22)

“Rio, I’ve been missing a lot of the ways I’m connected with the whole human race, as well as every other living thing on earth. Your little avian brain has really been cooking. Thanks.”

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Wait til next week, when I’ll show you the even bigger picture!”

“For now, Rio, signing off. . . . Pretty Boy!”