ROCK WREN: Living Life upon the Rock
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
“And, I [Jesus] say also unto thee, that thou art Peter [petros = little stone/rock, a masculine noun in Greek], and upon this rock [petra = large rock formation, a feminine noun in Greek, such as is used as in Matthew 7:24-27, to denote a rock formation large enough to serve as a stable foundation for a building — see Matthew 7:24-27, where a form of the Greek noun petra is translated “rock”] I will build My church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Rocks are important.
Simon Peter himself was a little rock, yet his God-given faith in what God revealed about Jesus – namely, that Jesus is the divine Messiah-Savior (i.e., see Matthew 7:24 & 16:16) — was comparable to a huge boulder-sized rock formation (see Matthew 7:24-27 & Luke 6:46-49), was the truth foundation of the Christianity (see also John 20:31).
In other words, to understand the Greek wordplay that Christ used (in Matthew chapter 16), it is necessary to see how Christ used the term “rock” (i.e., the feminine noun PETRA) in Matthew 7:24-27, in His parable about the wise man building his house upon the “rock” (PETRA). Simon Peter came to believe in Jesus as the Scripture-defined Messiah, and Peter’s belief in that Messianic truth is the equivalent of Peter wisely building his core faith (and thus also life) upon the right “Rock”.
In fact, even birds appreciate the value of rocks!
Albeit birds are known for habituating trees (Daniel 4:14; Matthew 13:19) and mountains (Psalm 11:1; Psalm 50:11; Psalm 104:12; Isaiah 18:6), some birds are famous for living in rocky habitats (Job 39:27-29; Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 1:4).
Consider the following birds: Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca), Rock Bush Quail (Perdicula argoondah), Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), Northern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), Rock Shag (Phalacrocorax magellanicus), Rock Kestrel (Falco rupicolus), Rock Sandpiper (Calidris/Erolia ptilocnemis), Rock Pratincole (Glareola nuchalis), Rock Dove (Columba livia — a/k/a “common pigeon”), Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon (Petrophassa rufipennis), White-quilled Rock Pigeon (Petrophassa albipennis), New Zealand Rock Wren (Xenicus gilviventris), Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus — a/k/a “tunki”), Cape Rockjumper (Chaetops frenatus — a/k/a Rufous Rockjumper), Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus), Common Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis, — a/k/a rufous-tailed rock thrush), Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia).
The ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus) is a small yet hearty passerine that often dwells in habitats devoid of thick forests, such as some of the rock-dominated deserts of America’s Great West, including canyonlands sprinkled with pinyon pine and mesquites.
It was Friday, March 3rd in AD2018, when I spied a Rock Wren inside Palo Duro Canyon, a huge canyonland featuring rocky wilderness within the Texas Panhandle.
The sighting occurred during a hike along Lighthouse Trail, in an area dominated by canyon rocks sprinkled by scrubby pines and mesquite trees. The Rock Wren was perched in the branches of a mesquite tree — a welcome sign of life in an otherwise fairly desolate and dry desert. In the photograph (below) you can see that I had my binoculars, for sighting birds, although the woolly mammoth in the background was photo-shopped into the picture by my cousin Don Barber.
The hike and the Rock Wren sighting were the occasion for composing this limerick:
ROCK WRENS ARE TOUGH ENOUGH FOR PALO DURO CANYON
In the canyon, near Lighthouse Trail,
‘Twas a bird, with an upturned tail;
In weather-worn mesquite,
It sang out a trill-tweet —
Though petite, Rock Wrens are not frail!
In other words, Rock Wrens are tough enough to survive (and even thrive) in the hot wilderness canyonland of Palo Duro Canyon, where the wildlife must tolerate months without any precipitation — and (non-winter) temperatures well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
(At this point, based on personal experience, I have a practical tip, for hiking Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro Canyon: take extra bottles of drinkable water; don’t expect any cell-phone coverage inside the canyon; use sun-screen on your exposed skin, but don’t put sun-screen on your forehead — because the hot sun quickly causes sunscreen [on your forehead] to drip down into your eyes, and that can painfully burn your eyes for hours afterwards, especially when there is no available source of running water for flushing it out of your eyes.)
To sum it up, there are quite a few birds (including the Rock Wren) that thrive in rocky habitats, like Palo Duro Canyon — you might say those resilient birds really rock!