Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons from the Birds on a Snowy Walk

With the warmer weather the birds are really beginning to chirp and warble. Toward the end of my time at the Jesuit Center, the winter storms had past and the sun had begun to come out. With the end of the bluster the birds began coming out from all of their hiding places. So did I and I took a snowy walk around the grounds which was much more leisurely in the absence of the tempest.
I am a birder of sorts. I set out hopeful for some good pictures. Especially because my friend Scott always gets some really nice ones and I wanted to share.
As I have said, a part of Ignatian spirituality is seeing God in all things. Here is how God and I had a conversation through the birds on my sun dappled snowy walk.
I set out eagerly and am looking up in the trees and in the fields for my "conquest"- birds ready for me to encounter them.
I hear them but the sun is bright and with the reflection off of the snow, I can not see what I hear, so I have to keep on.
Maybe there will be a better spot.
Then the wind blows and birds scatter.
Finally, I happen upon a lovely group of bluebirds- they are cheerfully engaged in their activity and are just beyond my range.
Determined to get closer, I scare them off.
Time and again until I give up and just watch. Watch as they call to each other and as they rejoice in the day.
Then I hear a tap-tap-tapping and look up to see a resplendent flicker, but he is always angled so that I cannot do the "glamour shot." The flicker is oblivious to my being there- so engrossed in his own search. There are no other birds with him but he cares not at all. Another bird finally joins but he moves on- and in his own flurry to "do" startles away the chickadee.
Are there times we become so committed to "our work" that we fail to see we are not community? Do we chase off others in our enthusiasm?

Further on there are more chickadees- but in flight are the crows.
Loud, dominant, and overwhelming. They dash the hopes of the little birds as they descend. Too much.

I sit in the esplanade and decide I cannot will the birds to stay put or pose "just right" and that fortunately I chose to enjoy what they were doing rather than just focus on what I wanted.

I know this is simplistic, but often it bears repeating.
Then I hear two birds engaged in a "call and response."
Bird one: I do this
Bird two: I do it back. And I add something.
Bird one: I try my pattern again- I do what I did
Bird two: I repeat what you did.
Bird one: I do this, but Bird Two comes in and cuts me off.
Both stop.
After a pause this pattern repeats
Bird one decides that "I can't get you to follow me and you can't get me to follow you"
Both fly off.

This pattern happens to people too.
Whenever our community is more about "me" than "us."
When it is not about discerning God's will together.

When we forget what the core really is.
We all do this.
And I ponder how I do this.

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