Shortly before Thanksgiving one of the younger Sunday Religious Education classes must have colored pictures of turkeys. I say this because as I was standing in the center aisle after Mass in my Mass vestments when a young man, about second grade or so, came up to me and gave me a drawing of a turkey brightly colored in orange and yellow and red, with his name in bold red letters on it. I was just about to compliment him on his fine rendition of a turkey when he announced with great assurance, “It is a phoenix!” I did not dispute this statement as he seemed pretty certain.
This got me to thinking. It certainly looked like a turkey to me. But just because it looked like a turkey, does that mean it really is a turkey? Was the creator of this picture able to see more deeply, below the colors and shape, to see the true essence of this creature, and was it in fact the noble phoenix? Perhaps this young man has a lesson to teach us.
Every day I meet people who seem to do silly or offensive or just dumb things. They walk too slow in front of me when I am trying to get somewhere in a hurry, they make sudden turns without using their turn indicators when driving, they take forever to find their wallet in the checkout line, and many more instances when, in my mind, I label them as “turkeys.” But even if they look or act like a turkey on the outside, if I could see more deeply, the way their Creator sees them, perhaps I would recognize that they really are phoenixes.
And that goes for myself as well. When I forget something, or trip on the sidewalk, or blurt out the wrong word, or clumsily drop something I then think of myself as a turkey. You probably do, too. All day long we may see ourselves as turkeys, kind of dumb or klutzy or stupid, but if we could see more deeply, see us the way we were meant to be, see us as our final destiny will show us in resurrected glory, then we would see we are not turkeys at all, but genuine phoenixes.
So I thank that young man from our Religious Education program who gave me the picture of a phoenix that happens to resemble a turkey. And I try to remember that each of those turkeys out there is really, truly, a glorious phoenix.