AN AMAZING FACT: According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the oldest known mourning dove to ever live was 31 years and four months old!
The mourning dove is a common bird in North America and the most widespread game bird in the United States. Its diet consists mostly of seeds and occasionally berries. Unlike humans, doves are able to survive in the desert due to their ability to drink brackish (salty) water from springs without becoming dehydrated. And while the oldest known mourning dove lived for the incredible length of 31 years, the average lifespan of the dove is only four to five years.
These doves are particularly known for their recognizable call. Their soft cooing is a beautiful sound and, perhaps, it was this call that Jesus was thinking of when He encouraged His followers to be “shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” The bird’s call is a gentle, innocent sound and reminds us of a calm country morning, sunshine in the trees, and dew sparkling on the grass. The sight of a snake will immediately put you on guard and make your muscles tense, but the call of a mourning dove is a restful sound. It gives you a sense of peace.
As Christians living in a sinful world, interacting daily with temptation and seeking to live our lives as a witness to others, we need the shrewdness of a snake. We need to be watchful and wise. But Jesus also reminds us to be innocent and gentle. Our hearts should be soft toward others and washed clean and pure by His blood. Our presence shouldn’t put others on guard with impatient words or an argumentative attitude, but should reflect the call of the mourning dove, peaceful and innocent.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16