They are back! Who? The birds outside my office window.
The Writer and the Birds
My hubby filled the feeder and I set up the suet last week. It didn’t take long for my little friends to discover that the Birdseed Bistro open for the season. What these birds don’t know, their presence is a gift to me.
You see, I hate winter. It is my least favorite season in northwest Ohio. I don’t like being cold. The darkness affects my mood. The uncertainty of never knowing if the roads will be clear or not. The changeable weather shrouds events with worry and uneasiness. Winter is a time of waiting for something better to come along.
One practice I’ve adopted the past few years is challenging myself to find something I like about winter. I have learned a lot from doing this and it has opened up my imagination of the beauty of this time of year and the gifts of this season.
The birds flocking, playing, and eating just outside my office window is one of these gifts. I smiled seeing them once again.
- The patient small woodpecker who methodically attacks the suet, ignoring the chaos of the other birds coming and going.
- The crazy cardinal fighting the bird he sees reflected in the garage door window. He fought that battle all last winter and on the very first day of the feeder filling up – yep, he was back defending his territory.
- And all those multi-brown barn sparrows – fluttering back and forth, scattering if I move too close to the window, and picking on one another for just the best place at their favorite diner.
I watched them and smile. I hear God’s lessons in their antics. I really enjoy the gift of winter just outside of my office.
Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting is a time of discovering and seeing ordinary creation with new and delightful eyes.
The Man and the Birds
The birds reminded me of the Christmas story Paul Harvey would tell each year. Seems like this is an appropriate time to share it again here:
“The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.
“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.
Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper.
Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.
Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.
Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.
And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.
“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”
At that moment, the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.
And he sank to his knees in the snow.
“Now I understand,” he whispered, “now I see why you had to do it.”
Winter and waiting offer gifts to us when we pay attention and are open to learn.
What do winter and waiting teach you?