An early morning Sunday, the air clear but heralding the intention of heat later on. I’m spruced, I’m dressed, I’m breakfasting – signs of my intention to head off to church soon. I throw open my balcony doors to welcome the cool breeze before the day warms, and suddenly I hear desperate birdsong, panicked screeching. I look out and see cats surefootedly stalking a fluttering, vibrant-green parakeet flying from bush to bush. I hurriedly leave my eggs and juice to dash down flights of stairs, church dress flailing about me in my rush to save a little bird.

But all I can do is chase the predators away – I have no rescue plan, here on my own. And the frightened ball of feathers won’t let me near him and flies off to a balcony way beyond my reach. I’m late for church. I shoot off a prayer to the Creator of the bird, who made me too, asking Him to salvage this situation – but then I must rush to be on time for the service.

It’s a lovely time together, we sing a song about trusting Jesus in the valleys and the minister reminds us of belief and faith, to hope for things unseen. I make my way home, my heart fed and full.

As I get closer to my door, I hear it again –this time a stronger chirp from somewhere high above my head. I halt for a while under the tall trees outside my home, trying to find brighter green among a greater sea of swaying leaves. A woman makes her way to me – it’s her bird, and she’s heartbroken over his escape. Two pairs of eyes are now trying to pinpoint the location of the chirping, and we’re talking, talking as two women do in such a situation. I find out she attends church too. We exchange numbers. She invites me for tea sometime. I like her instantly, we laugh like old friends, and collectively cry out with dismay as her beautiful parakeet takes flight to a tree beyond our fences. Gone. I promise to come over in the week for that promised cup of tea, if only to commiserate with her over this loss.

It’s only later in the afternoon, returned from family visits, that the thought starts forming in my mind. We furiously pray against hurdles and adversity in our lives, banishing the negative with positive affirmations, visualising the glorious solution to all our problems – and call it faith. I don’t dispute the place of hope in our darkness, it is indeed what keeps the ship from sinking. But the escape of a bright little parakeet reminded me that there’s often an opportunity concealed in the folds of a hardship or event not to our liking, something that would not have come otherwise. Because today, I made a friend.

The tale has a joyful conclusion. The following day, the bird returned – and of own accord came to sit down on the top of his cage, in search of his mate inside. My new friend was able to quickly throw a towel over him, scoop him up and return him to safety. We rejoiced over our cup of tea that our Creator still cares for his creation!