Sitting on the porch at a camp in Maine, the rocky, overgrown hill sloping down to the lake in front of me, I came upon a new appreciation of Matthew 6:24-35
On the upper porch, it was the the humming birds buzzing right over my head with that sound like the light sabers from Star Wars. And the repeated dive-bombing arial fights for who could claim momentary dominance at the feeder.
On the lower porch, it was the osprey that flew low and fast over the undergrowth, right towards me and sneaking up as if I were prey, and then flared as it turned away at the railing, baring its fleckled underside to me.
And on the lake, it was the loons. Their different haunting calls. And watching them disappear in one place and pop back up — an incredible time later and too far a distance away. It was the wrong time of year, but I’d like to see them in Spring when, I hear, their young ride piggy back until they can navigate the waters by themselves.
And this is not even to mention the bright goldfinches that always delight me. And the blue jay that was almost ubiquitous to my growing up in St. Louis, but which I don’t remember seeing before on the East Coast. Or the mourning dove that seemed out of place in the Maine woods, only because there is a pair nesting in the bushes between the Sanctuary and the CE building.
What joy these birds gave me. I’m not any sort of real “Birder,” though, when I sent a report to my son Ben who is, I got back a list of 26 birds of 11 different species he saw in NYC over the weekend. I guess for those with eyes to see… I wonder, does such a past time make one not only more observant, but also more thankful?
Still my few bird species, that I didn’t really go out looking for, but suddenly could not miss, gave me almost as much joy as my time with my friend Bill. And I had nothing to do with the birds (or Bill!) being there. None of it was a product of all my sowing, reaping, gathering, spinning or toil. I was in no way the cause or creator of their existence or aspects that so pleased me.
Which made me appreciate and claim the Matthew passage anew. If I drew so much pleasure from being given to observe these birds, imagine the pleasure God must draw from watching us. As our creator, redeemer, sustainer, God’s pleasure must fill the expanse of Divinity to overflowing.
(Conversely, it occurs to me, when we are less than we were meant to be, God’s sorrow must be overwhelming. “God’s heart is always the first to break” was how Bill Coffin used to say that.)
But when we think of how happy we can make God (that in itself is a sort of humbling thought!), is it really such a stretch to believe the exhortation that Jesus leaves us : that we need not worry so much, God will provide?
Jesus says elsewhere — inviting us to pray for our own needs and treat others as we need to be treated — that if even an evil parent provides for a child’s needs, how much more will our good God, with a parent’s unstoppable joy, provide for us. In the great North Woods and on the streets of Philadelphia and all the places in between.
See you in church,