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Mr. Praline (Patrick Boyns) and pet shop owner (Erik Tryggestad) in the Dead Parrot sketch, transcontinental version.
Video stills via Zoom

Requiem for a passport and a parrot

God reminds us of the important trips we did make in the past year.

‘This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed him to the perch he’d be pushing up the daisies. He’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is a late parrot!”

Perhaps you recognize those lines from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch, in which Mr. Praline (John Cleese) confronts a pet shop owner (Michael Palin) about the Norwegian Blue he bought “not half an hour ago from this very boutique” only to learn that it’s stone dead. The shop owner denies this with excuse after excuse: 

“No, he’s resting. He’s stunned. He’s probably pining for the fjords.”

I may have been in a similar state of denial about my recently expired passport, which, as I write this, sits on the desk of some forlorn office in Washington as I await its replacement.

I had big plans for its final, stampless pages: a summer trip to Rwanda to see the work of the Africa Transformation Network. Maybe another Health Talents International mission with my wife. Perhaps I could finally get Dad to take that trip with me to our ancestral homeland, Norway.

Then came COVID-19. I kept telling myself it would end. They won’t cancel my flights to Africa in June. They did. 

OK, well, surely we can still go to Disneyland in August with my sister and her family. Nope. (In fact, that’s still not open.) 

Erik Tryggestad says farewell to his soon-to-be-expired passport.

Erik Tryggestad says farewell to his soon-to-be-expired passport.

Color me Norwegian Blue.

Yes, these are the slightest of slights compared to what so many have endured in the past year. Even as I was getting my documents together to renew my passport — and daring to dream about a possible trip to the Dominican Republic with Christian Relief Fund — my wife called and said that a classmate of our teenage daughter had tested positive. She’d have to quarantine. 

I abandoned the office copier and rushed to school to get both our girls. When I got them home, I closed my bedroom door and fell to my knees in prayer. I didn’t want them to see how scared I was, how frustrated I was — how tired I am.

(Both girls are fine, by the way. Yet another close call.)

When I feel overwhelmed, angry or even just wistful for the stamps my passport didn’t get, I ask God to remind me of the trips I did make in the past 12 months — a trip out the front door to hide eggs in our yard on Easter, a trip with Papa to Quartz Mountain State Park where our youngest caught her first fish, a perch. There were multiple trips to the field next to my office to fly kites.


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And I got to participate in online Bible studies and seminars hosted by brethren in the Caribbean, South Africa and Central Europe, places I had no plans to visit. Recently I sat in on the Advanced Bible Study Series (ABSS) that usually takes place in Germany. I saw friendly faces from across Europe, Canada and the U.S. 

During the seminar’s talent night (which happened mid-afternoon here), Patrick Boyns and I performed a transcontinental version of the Dead Parrot sketch (featured image above). Boyns, principal of the British Bible School, was Mr. Praline. My girls picked out my costume. 


(Look for the Parrot Sketch around the 53 minute mark — but don’t miss out on all the other wonderful acts in this talent show.)

Afterward, we all had ice cream in honor of the late Doyle Kee, an ABSS devotee and longtime missionary to the French-speaking world. He loved ice cream.

So do I. Yes, I’m still pining for the fjords. But ice cream helps.

Mr. Praline (Patrick Boyns) and pet shop owner (Erik Tryggestad) in the Dead Parrot sketch, transcontinental version.

Mr. Praline (Patrick Boyns) and pet shop owner (Erik Tryggestad) in the Dead Parrot sketch, transcontinental version.

ERIK TRYGGESTAD is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @eriktryggestad.

Filed under: covid-19 and travel Dead Parrot Insight Insight international travel Monty Python Opinion passport Post-Pandemic Church travel Travel Reports

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