A lesson from the birds

I didn’t intend to show you more birds today. Honestly, I didn’t! But yesterday ended up with so many of them making their presence known around here that I had to say something about it.

Palm Sunday began with a fresh snowfall (yes, I know… I thought it was a cruel April Fools joke, too), and birds swarmed the birdfeeder hanging from a corner of our deck – apparently frantic for extra calories to fight the chill.

But the pine siskin travels in flocks, so we’re not talking about our usual three or four birds flitting in and out as the chickadees and juncos often do. No, we had dozens. All at once. And with two sets of glass patio doors and eight windows rimming the deck, there were some collisions. Most resulted in nothing more than a few lost feathers, but one Junco sat, stunned, on the deck for an hour before he eventually got over it and flew away, and one Siskin had a head-on with the glass and died instantly.

They were greedy and grabbing, chowing down as if it were the only food they’d seen in weeks. When the chickadees and juncos arrived for their regular meal, they were chased off the premises. It reminded me of the occasional department store sale I’ve attended! Hands off! I saw it first!

Friday I quoted from Matthew 6:26-27 about how birds don’t sow, reap or store up food and yet God provides for them. But I have to say, the belly-up-to-the-bar and elbow-into-the-trough kind of behaviour those birds were displaying gives me reason to question the intended analogy.

I think greed and selfishness may be the most common of our human shortcomings. We’re a “me first” society, too often thinking of how to meet our own needs before considering the condition of others.

I’m not even going to try coming up with a writing analogy for this one. As we enter Holy Week maybe it’s appropriate that we look at a more personal application instead.

When our own desires and preferences are more important to us than maintaining harmony within a community – when we begin grasping at what satisfies us without any thought that it might upset others or be divisive – don’t we resemble a greedy flock of birds more than the image of God in which we were lovingly made?

Sorry. I’m having a little soapbox moment here. But I’m looking ahead to Good Friday, and it’s something to think about as we contemplate the sacrifice that was made for us.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.”

[Micah 6:8]


11 thoughts on “A lesson from the birds

  1. Katt says:

    I never tire of your “bird” pictures. My husband hung bird feeders all over, so that no matter which window I’m looking out I am blessed to see birds feeding. I love the picture too that you captured with snow coming down. I sometimes miss the snow…..if only for a moment.
    Great post, thought provoking…..

  2. Thank you so much for the gentle reminder. I wish the whole world could read this. It’s a great post, and a great way to start the week.

  3. Carol, much thanks for this beautiful post and your gentle reminder of what is important for us to be thinking of this time of the year. Of course, we were also taught by the good Sisters of Mercy that these are the lessons we must consider each day and the true purpose of the Holy Week is to know how it brings together all those moments of the year for us to learn how to live each day. Still felt sad that one little bird was lost … but then that one little one also reminded me that in the process of our struggle to survive we often risk losing it all.

  4. robin says:

    You have much food for thought here!

  5. S. Etole says:

    Sounds like your birds had a bit more attitude than mine! There weren’t as many here … maybe that made a difference. I like the story you found as you watched them though.

  6. Yes, I’ll always love to see your bird pictures too! These are delicately beautiful birds–pine siskin, you call them? I want to be more knowledgeable about birds. They remind me of flowers in being one of the God’s great natural ornaments to the world.

  7. oops! Editing was a little unintentionally comical there. I mean “being one of God’s” not “the God’s.” I am a monotheist, I promise. 🙂

  8. joylene says:

    My husband and I were discussing this very thing yesterday. I think there are a lot of good people around. We just seemed focused on the bad. But part of what makes us strive to be better is gentle reminders like this great post, Carol. It didn’t come across at all like a soapbox.

  9. Carol says:

    I’ve been reading through all your comments and appreciating how similar we are in our responses to God’s little creatures and the lessons they bring to us. Our first hummingbirds arrived this afternoon — their feistiness, determination and endurance are always such a miracle to me!

  10. pastordt says:

    You KNOW I love anything with birds in it! And this is a lovely and thoughtful post, Carol. Thanks for it.

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