Consider the Bluebirds
“Honey, THE BLUE BIRDS ARE BACK!!” I exclaimed on a sort of dreary late February morning a few days ago while impatiently waiting for those last few drops of water to escape the filter and splash into the waiting coffee pot. It was my good luck that morning to have been the first to spot that unmistakable flash of blue while peering out our kitchen window at our backyard bird feeder. There were two or three of them out there, busily fluttering from branch to branch among the nearby hemlock trees waiting their turn at the feeders along with the finches, the chickadees, the nuthatches, the cardinals, the blue jays and woodpeckers, and of course the sparrows. Since we put up the bird feeders a couple of years ago, it’s been quite a show, a show that helped keep us entertained through the pandemic and is a daily reminder of how different groups of birds can coexist with a degree of harmony.
But of all the daily winged visitors, I have to say the blue birds stand out to me, and to my mind are a much more reliable harbinger of spring than a large rodent living in the ground somewhere in Pennsylvania. So, while I know we’re still in for perhaps more than a handful of chilly, snowy days ahead in March and April, I’m sticking with the story that the blue birds are here to kick off the return of spring!
It’s hard to watch the show in our backyard without thinking back to the message that Jesus delivered over 2000 years ago:
“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” Matthew 6:26
Recalling my farm upbringing on the Great Plains, a lifestyle organized, centered, and dedicated to sowing, reaping, and storing things in haystacks, in silos, in grain bins, and of course barns, I must admit to a certain degree of skepticism over taking Jesus’ advice too literally with regard to this particular verse. Apparently, there has long been debate over what Jesus was really trying to say. There are some who have argued that we shouldn’t worry about sowing or reaping since God will provide, to which others responded by pointing out that actually, birds work pretty hard to keep themselves and their families fed. It is said that Martin Luther’s comment on this verse was something like, “God provides food, but does not drop it in their beaks.”
Luther’s comment strikes me as being astute, perhaps his thinking was something like, “I get the larger point that we all tend to worry a lot more about appearances and material wealth than we should, but let’s not forget that we sometimes actually do have to plan ahead for a rainy (or snowy) day.”
And let’s face it, even the bluebirds are instinctively smart enough to know that they need to head south before the coldest days of December are upon us.