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.

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