First airing in 1960, and running for 249 episodes over eight seasons, the show combined the artistic talents of an ensemble cast that revolved around the comedic genius manifesting itself in the relationship between a mild mannered small town sheriff, played by Andy Griffith, and his well-intentioned, if bumbling deputy, played by Don Knotts. The result was some of the finest comedy ever filmed.
On occasion, however, the show could depart from its customary comedic approach, and underscore values with storylines that resonate to this very day. As a case in point, Episode 1 of Season 4, first airing in 1963, is often described as "the series at its down-home best in this classic episode in which Opie accidentally kills a mother bird with his slingshot".
Even those unfamiliar with the show may still be somewhat acquainted with the plot of this one particular episode, which is consistently rated among the show’s top ten. With his new slingshot, Opie accidentally kills a songbird, leaving behind three young hatchlings. Feeling responsible, he brings the baby chicks into his room (in a birdcage), where he becomes their surrogate mother, nurturing them to maturity.
Over time, with ample love and attention, the birds, which Opie has affectionately named "Wynken", "Blynken", and "Nod", eventually mature to the point that they are ready to be set free. In the classic scene where Andy challenges his son Opie to release the birds, Opie ultimately realizes that this is indeed part of his responsibility as their adoptive parent.
After he releases the birds, Opie observes that the birds have all flown away and then states, "The cage sure looks awful empty, don’t it Pa?" To which Andy, smiling with satisfaction as he hugs Opie and looks upward, responds, "Yes son, it sure does. But, don’t the trees seem nice and full?!"
I have found myself thinking about this episode a lot this week. As Mother’s Day approaches, I have been reminded of just how blessed I am to have had a mother who was not taken from me. I have also been blessed in that this same mother then faithfully nurtured and protected me to maturity. As she did, she prepared me for the time that would eventually come when I would spread my wings and fly the nest to sing among the trees!
Now, more than ever, I realize what a blessing this has all been for me. And I am also more committed than ever to make certain to communicate that appreciation to her in what time we have left together in this world.
In a passage acknowledging the tremendous value of virtuous women, the writer of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs (chapter 31, verses 10-31) strongly encourages husbands and children to honor the one who has faithfully fulfilled the roles of wife and mother in their lives.
He concludes with this famous admonition "Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise…" In some small way, this blog post is part of my attempt to do just that!
To be sure, not everyone shares the testimony of having had a Godly mother. But many do. And so, my friend, if God gives you the opportunity between now and this coming Sunday to express your appreciation to your own mother, make certain to do so.
Very likely, few things in life will have brought as much joy to her heart as having seen you fly and having heard you sing among the branches. Let part of your song, therefore, be directed back to her, so that not only the trees, but also her heart, will be full!
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/proverbs/31.htm.
NOTE: The writers of The Andy Griffith Show were obviously familiar with "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod", a popular poem for children written by American writer and poet Eugene Field and published on March 9, 1889.