It was supposed to be a true story. Whether it was or not, I will never know.
It goes like this…
Once, when I was younger, I had two pet canaries. One was yellow, and one was green. They sang very beautifully, and were very nice pets. They didn’t peck your fingers, they didn’t screech like some canaries do… They were perfect birds, and we loved to play with them.
One day I was playing outside with my brother, and we found an injured sparrow. It couldn’t fly away from us, nor run. It just lay there chirping angrily at us. Its right wing and leg were broken. Heroic boys that we were, we went and got a shoebox to save it from death.
Dad got home later that evening and we proudly showed him our rescued animal. He was a good sport about it, and put the bird’s leg in a little splint, and wrapped the bird’s wing so it couldn’t flap around. I suggested we put it in the cage with one of the canaries, so it could have company. My dad did so.
After a while, the sparrow healed, and lived in the cage with the canary. It was still a wild bird though. We could not feed it without fear of getting pecked. It also made the worst chirping noise ever. I thought it would be great to put all three birds into one large cage. That way, the two canaries would teach the sparrow how to sing, not chirp… and also how to be tame.
I was wrong.
Instead of the canaries teaching the sparrow to sing, the sparrow taught the canaries its chirp. Over the weeks, the canaries sang less and chirped more. They also stopped hopping up on our hands, and being kind birds. They pecked like the sparrow, and would fly away from us in their cage.
Horrified, my brother and I took the sparrow out of the cage after a month or so, and released it back into the wild. The thankless bird flew away without so much as a pause.
We hoped the canaries would go back to singing their songs, and being friendly, but the damage was done. Sadly, the canaries never did sing again, they only chirped like the sparrow had taught them. After a few months, we were able to get them to hop on our fingers and such… but their songs were lost.
After he finished that rather somber story, I remember him saying: “When choosing your friends, scripture is so clear. Bad company corrupts good character. I have seen it happen so many times Austin. Be careful when you choose your friends.”
I wanted to share that story with you, as maybe it will stick with you as it has me. Whether it really happened or not, I believe the illustration remains. Friends are important, but choose them wisely.