I recently read that until 1986 British miners used to carry a caged canary bird into a coal mine as a life-saving device. Coal mines historically did not have proper ventilation systems, and some of the gases found in mines–like methane and carbon monoxide–are hard to detect and can kill a human in little time and with little warning. A researcher named John Scott Haldane realized that birds were more sensitive to these gases because they take in oxygen both on inhalation and exhalation. Thus, they are getting twice as much air, are more susceptible to airborne poison, and can serve as an early detection device for humans.
Miners would carry their canary birds down into the mine, and if the canary bird was singing, all work and life would continue. However, the minute the canary bird got a bit quieter or completely stopped singing, work and life in the mine ceased as everyone headed for the exit. The ceasing of the bird’s song meant something quite deadly was happening.
The canary in a coal mine was a warning, a detection system of sorts, and lately I’ve been thinking that our love for one another is like our own canary in a coal mine. The way we love one another serves as a detection system of sorts. Our active love for each other supports and affirms, but an absence of love should wake us up to the toxic environment we are living in.
Jesus spoke often of our call to love one another.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:9-13
Jesus reminds us that we are loved so that we can go and be love to others. Love is the canary bird singing. When we are loving, all is well; when we are not, we need to ask if Life has left us
Love is our detection system signifying being rooted in Jesus. It is good to center yourself on the truth that you are deeply loved. And then hear the calling that love calls us to become love to others. Let your love sing out!