Did you know that elephants not only recognize each other, but they also have specific ways to comfort one another? Apparently they do that comforting by some reassuring touches, some chirping noises and physically gathering around in a kind of meaningful huddle.
Researchers in Thailand studied Asian elephants and saw some interesting patterns. When one of the elephants was under some duress, the supportive ones might put their trunks in the stressed elephant’s mouth. The “touch” meant something special. It seemed to convey the message, “I am here to help you.”
And the “comforters” would also make some particular chirping noises. If we could “translate” their language, it might mean, “Hey pal, I am right here. You do not have to go through this alone.”
I am always interested in reading about animal behavior that mirrors some of our human experiences. Somehow it helps highlight what we humans ought to be doing.
And this particular story made me think of the “one anothers” in our Bible. Some 55 times in the New Testament, Christians are enjoined to care for each other. We are told to love one another and that can be expressed by living in peace with each other.
We are told to not speak against another person, to forgive each other and to be hospitable. We are told to greet each other with a holy kiss as a sign of true and appropriate affection. We are urged to confess our sins amongst ourselves as a means of developing humility and grace.
We are instructed not to complain to each other and to bear the burdens of our friends. Because we are devoted to each other, it should be easier to build each other up in the faith. And on the other hand, we are told to challenge one another by speaking the truth in love.
Each of these gestures should become patterns for our lives. It should become second nature for us to regard the other guy as more important than ourselves. Comforting someone else should become one of our default “buttons.”
So, this week without chirping, let’s find ways to comfort a friend. Maybe it’s a word, maybe a card, maybe a quick text or a nice long lunch. But let’s all find ways to console our brothers and sisters.
If the elephants can do it, so can we!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel