Can Birds Really Save My Soul?

bird feeders

I am looking out my back window.  The headlines from another senseless tragedy still scroll across my video screen.  But my backyard is serene and peaceful.  I have a clothesline pole with three bird feeders and two suet feeders.  A minute or so ago, there were more birds than I could count.  Throughout the day, Karen and I watch the birds come and go.  Sometimes there are more than twenty birds all taking turns at our feeders.

Yesterday, we saw hummingbirds, ravens, woodpeckers, finches, doves, grackles, robins, and several other species that we could not identify.  Karen keeps a bird guide and binoculars at the ready and is always on the lookout for a new species to add to the list that we keep.  We are not true birdwatchers, but we enjoy watching the birds.  Amidst the carnage of life with its murders and wars, the birds are our escape.  They help us to remember that there is indeed sanity in the universe.

Some of the birds we see are using the water fountain for a drink after an appetizer of suet.  Several species prefer to eat the seeds that fall on the ground from the feeders.  Birds are not always neat eaters.  Eventually a few squirrels will come around.  We never chase them away and they always appear happy to rummage about on the ground for food.  We have never had a bear problem with the feeders, but we have had some raccoons that like to take the feeders down and enjoy a hardy meal.  It does not bother Karen and me.  We just reload the feeders and put them back up.  In our daily scheme of things, bird feed is very economical.  Even if it meant eating less red meat to buy more bird seed, we would gladly make the sacrifice.

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Today, with the thoughts of yet another school massacre still running through my mind, I can’t help but notice the birds and how they interact.  In all our years of watching the birds outside our kitchen window, I have never seen any bird fights.  I see many birds of different species and they all get along.  They take turns at the feeders.  They come and they go but none attack any other birds.  If there is such a thing as “bird discrimination” or “bird racism,” I have not witnessed any evidence of it.

Jesus told his disciples:

“See the birds of the sky, that they don’t sow, neither

do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father

feeds them.  Aren’t you of much more value than they?”  — Matthew 6:26

This translates for me as an admonition to worry more about my soul than about physical things.  I do not need to acquire, accumulate, hoard, and stow away toys, stuff, and merchandise because God will take care of these things.  She/he does it for the birds, so it will be done for me.  With less concern for worldly things, I must turn my attention to my soul.  I need to do the things that will make my soul worthy of continuing existence after I leave this third rock from the sun.

Now, those of you who know me will be pondering my above words with some confusion.  I thought John was an atheist some of you will say.  Others will say, I thought John was an agnostic.  One of my best friends who is a pastor, says that I am more Christian than many of the people in his congregation.  In truth, I disavow religion.  I claim no knowledge to prove or disprove the existence of something or someone that created the food and earth that I survive with.

I write the above words from the perspective of an individual who wonders why so many people who profess to be Christians do not take Jesus’s words to heart.  Call them hypocrites.  They are in many religions.  It frequently seems to me that religion is one large stew of hypocrites.  A pot full of different denominations that unlike the birds cannot get along.  A big stew that does not mix well with other stews.  The Christian stew does not mix well with the Islamic stew.  The Islamic stew does not mix well with the Jewish stew.  Even within the same stew we find acrimony and bigotry.  “My religion and my God are the one true and righteous paths to salvation.  I will slaughter anyone who disagrees with me” says the “true believer.”

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Before this blog becomes too negative, I need to go back to my bird watching window.  The birds will restore my equanimity and smooth out the hills and valleys of my life.

Birds are the saviors of our souls.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linlokfei
    May 26, 2022 @ 18:07:36

    This resonates with me. Halfway around the world i am glued to CNN watching the updates on this senseless shooting…. I glance out at my balcony and see birds landing and taking off… my balcony is peaceful but my mind is turmoiled. the sounds of the birds give me a sense of peace … bless the young souls and 2 teachers who are now birds making their way upward and onward.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      May 27, 2022 @ 08:42:20

      Your balcony sounds very nice. I like your metaphor of the birds going upward and onward for the young souls. So many people have been touched by this tragedy.

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  2. Jane Fritz
    May 26, 2022 @ 19:13:53

    You’re on a roll with your posts, John. I love this. Once again, you’ve got too many threads for me to comment on as much as I’d like to, but I’ll give it a try. We also have many bird feeders and many of the same species. Love ‘em. I also appreciated your dabble into religious/spiritual contemplation. I liked your pastor friend’s observation that you’re more Christian than many in his congregation. I interpret that as how he sees you your life, the kind of life that Jesus would encourage: compassion towards others, do unto others, etc rather than self-righteous, self-serving treatment of others. You’re not kidding about the hypocrisy used by some so-called right-wing “Christians” who use misinterpretations of their religion to judge and oppress others. Most importantly, get back to your bird-watching!

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      May 27, 2022 @ 08:45:25

      Thanks Jane, I think or feel that so much of what is happening touches all of us like “Ask now for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee and me.” We are all hurt by this senseless tragedy and many are now irate at the response or lack of response on the part of some to it. Can greed be this immense to overcome common sense? I wonder what birds you get that we do not?

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      • Jane Fritz
        May 27, 2022 @ 11:04:05

        Apparently it can. Greed and self-interest. Look at what Putin is doing to millions of Ukrainians and to the world that needs its food as just one example. In fact, Greed is the third and final topic you’ve challenged me to. That one needs some time so as not to be anything but totally despairing of mankind the way things are going at the moment. Re birds, all of the ones you mention, including several varieties of finches and 3 varieties of woodpeckers. Also cardinals, juncos, and occasionally a few flickers. Red-winged blackbirds on their way north and then on their way back down south. Occasionally a stranger. Eagles and ospreys, but not at our feeders! Many, many crows, but you must get those as well. We love our birds.

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        • Dr. John Persico Jr.
          May 28, 2022 @ 08:08:24

          Going to have to try some new bird treats and see if we get some of the ones you named that we have not seen. Yes, I have one more of your questions to address as well. I would like to see you do greed. Your thoughts will be very interesting. Seems so much of the evil in the world is caused by greed fueled by an emptiness inside many people that something is missing and they need to find it outside themselves.

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          • Jane Fritz
            May 28, 2022 @ 13:30:05

            Your final observation is an insightful/intriguing one. The acceptance that people choose to feed their emptiness by striking out at others in some capacity is chilling. And probably very true in many cases.

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      • Jane Fritz
        May 27, 2022 @ 11:32:49

        And nuthatches, of course! Very rarely a blue jay.

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  3. Wayne Woodman
    May 26, 2022 @ 20:22:07

    Thanks John for a thoughtful piece. I have been a bird enthusiast for years and watching them can certainly be a source of peace.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      May 27, 2022 @ 08:46:29

      Thanks Wayne, I guess that is why peace is always a dove. I had never really thought of this before. The tranquility watching birds is very soothing.

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  4. Wayne Woodman
    May 26, 2022 @ 20:22:50

    Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Ah the joys of bird watching.

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  5. Cindy Jones
    May 30, 2022 @ 10:58:08

    I know you know I have no use for religion a it stands today,. It empowers people to justify their hate and prejudice in the name of God. I am not sure this has any religion behind it. I think we need to blame shear stupidity and lack of basic logic. Do you know how people say people kill people, not guns? I asked someone who believes that if she would rather be in a shooter situation in which the shooter had a 38 or an AR15. I just got the same people kill people response. No thinking, no logic. I appreciate your birds but this is a battle against stupidity and a lack of logical thinking and a battle of misinformation drenched in illogical thinking. We need to identify that over and over again.

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    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      May 30, 2022 @ 17:19:31

      Cindy, The battle against stupidity has been going on since Socrates was given hemlock for trying to get the youth of Athens to think for themselves and probably before that. We all need a respite from the battle from time to time or we might give up and burn out. The birds are one respite that I enjoy. I agree with you about the mindless stupid responses. People have been programmed and brainwashed in this country to an extent that not many realize. See my blog on Are Americans Brainwashed?. But the battle is a marathon and not a sprint.

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