We are commanded by Heavenly Father to be charitable. Charity should be a way of life. The scriptures contain many teaching on why and how we can practice charity. One of the most helpful to me is found in the Book of Mormon in Moroni 7:
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
But sometimes it takes the example set by others to wake us up to our often insignificant commitment to true charity as taught by Heavenly Father.
This wakeup call came to me on a quiet Saturday morning in my own backyard. That morning I was up early and walking on my lawn when I thought I heard a bird chirping nearby. I looked around and saw nothing. Then it called again from under my feet. I heard it coming from the window well of my basement! As I peered inside, I saw a little bird — a starling — there.
Evidently, he had flown down into the window well perhaps looking for food or shelter. However, he was unable to fly back out due to the steel bars on the cover. He had inadvertently trapped himself and was chirping for help to get out.
I put on a gardening glove for protection from his beak and removed the window well grate hoping he would fly out. But he was either too afraid or too exhausted to even try. He just cowered in a corner until I picked him up and removed him from his prison.
Once out, I gently threw him up into the air thinking he would fly away. But instead he jumped from my hands and flew downward about twenty feet into the grass. There he laid, not moving. So I picked him up and tried once more to send him on his way, only to see him fall to the grass again. After several more attempts to revive him, I gave up, thinking he had lost too much strength and would shortly die.
Not wanting to view this sad event, I left him alone in the grass to his demise and walked off. But my curiosity got the better of me, and after about fifteen minutes, I returned again to this little starling. There he was. He had not moved an inch. He still looked frightened and lost.
But as I drew near to him, a large red robin flew in over my shoulder and came to rest about a foot in front of the distressed little guy. I looked closely at these two birds to see what would happen. The robin had flown in with a huge worm in his bill. He took several steps toward our needy little friend and before I knew it, he offered him the worm. I stood amazed at how tenderly he held the worm up over the mouth of his new friend. Eagerly the worm was swallowed. They looked at each other for a while after that, and then the robin flew away. It took a few moments, but the little starling started to revive himself. First, he shook his head a little. Then he flexed his wings and jumped into the air and flew away. I can only guess that the worm he received from a friendly robin had been sufficient to nourish him and give him the strength and courage to fly home.
What I observed in this little exchange was truly remarkable. It has taught me a great lesson about true charity. The robin saw a fellow bird in distress. He could have paid no attention to it and gone about on his own path. But rather than think of himself, he answered the call of a creature in distress.
The robin had only one possession in his life: a worm. He could have eaten it himself or perhaps given it to his chicks, but he gave it to a stranger in hopes of helping him. I have asked myself if I would ever be brave or caring enough to part with one of my precious possessions to help a friend in need like this robin? It seemed his only desire was to help a friend in need. His tender gift brought life and hope to a dying bird. Would I be able to do the same if called upon?
The greatest example of this kind of love and sacrifice was set by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave his everything to provide eternal life to all who would keep His commandments.
I simply ask myself now, how much am I willing to give someone in need? I hope and pray this little event will always remind me of true charity. I must always “cleave unto charity,” even as my little robin friend has taught me.
George Domm was born and raised in upstate New York around historical LDS sites such as the Hill Cumorah and Palmyra. He was very familiar with the Church long before he was baptized in 1959. Soon after joining, he found himself serving a full-time mission for the Church in Berlin, Germany. That was his first of four missions! George currently lives in American Fork, UT with his wife, Margaret, and busies himself trying to keep up with their 11 children and 42 grandchildren. He loves to do family history and play golf with "all the old men in our neighborhood." His goal is to one day shoot his age, 74.