Nigel, the loneliest bird

Ashley Brimmage, Opinions Editor

The New York Times recently published a piece on the story of a seabird named Nigel who lived in New Zealand. In an attempt to get this species of bird to return to the island—which interestingly enough is called Mana Island—they built stone birds, painted their beaks to resemble that of the seabird and played their calls over loudspeakers. What they could not foresee was that Nigel would get quite attached to one of the stone seabirds in particular.


With Valentine’s Day just behind us, many students have been left with heads spinning—whether it be the “floating on a love cloud” feeling, or your hopelessly-single headache induced by the weight of your mom’s, “So, any possible special someones at school?” questions or the large amount of Kit Kats you have consumed in the past few days.

For many of us, the only valentines box we have been filling with letters is God’s—his prayer box—and man, have we been packing it full of requests. Requests for seasons of singleness to end, for loneliness to retreat, for comfortability in our singleness and the desire to rid our hearts of the desire for love. Some might have prayed for a soul that follows after Paul in a spiritually-superior life of singleness and servitude. However, given Biola’s culture, it would be safe to assume that at one point or another, over this past week, the phrase “Lord, where are they? Where is my ‘one’?” crossed a majority of our prayers.

What I would like to discuss is the idea of “The One.” To do this, let us return to Nigel. Upon returning to Mana, Nigel struck a particular liking for one of the concrete birds. For many months, he cozied up at “her” side, and built a nest.

“He was seen wooing her by preening her. Nigel was also seen trying to mate with her,” said Linda Kerkmeester, vice president of the environmental conservation group Friends of Mana Island, in the Times article.

Month after month, he stayed there by “her” side. But “she” remained uninterested and strangely “stone-hearted.”


I suggest, that in some ways, we are all a little like Nigel. Whether the stone-hearted bird we “cuddle” are our ideas and notions of a perfect relationship, or perhaps a certain someone, we can all have a tendency to hold too tightly to the promise our parents gave us when we were young. They have been praying for our spouse, and they know for a fact that one person is out there and one day God will bring them to you.

Recently, I have noticed that my parents sing a different tune. My mom has shared her beliefs on “the one” in a simple manner. She said, “If there was only one ‘the one’ for everyone, if one person messed up and chose wrong a hundred years ago, we would all be done for.” She has shared with me her ideas of choosing someone who brings out the best side of yourself, and acknowledges that this does not mean perfection, nor that you will be happy all the time, but that you will serve God as your best self, spurred on next to someone who helps that along.

My dad responds to my siblings’ cracks about when I will get married by saying if there is someone right who comes along, who makes being together better than being single, then I should marry him. And only then.

There are people who date around and make pros and cons lists. There are people who pray and are revealed who they are to spend the rest of their days with. And I do acknowledge that there are people in this conversation who have been dating since high school and feel certain they will marry the person they are with. I suggest that we, as Christians, do not get so caught up with marriage that we perhaps miss the view of the island that we are on.


If you were wondering, the sea-bird experiment worked. After a couple years and a fresh coat of paint, other lonely sea-birds joined Nigel and his unrequited-love on the cliffs. However, rather than going to greet the new friends, Nigel stayed with his stone cold bride. Only a few days later did Nigel die, having spent his last hours as he did before: clinging to the hard body of a love he never received.

Faith in a promised love is an unmatchable strength. To trust so deeply in the Lord, and in his promise that he will work all for good is beautiful, and watching it come to fruition is inspiring and an attestment of just how much God loves us.

I just hope that we as Christians, and especially as Biolans, will not allow ourselves to become so obsessed and preoccupied with the idea of what romantic love looks like, or should look like, that we miss all the real-life in-the-feather birds around us.

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