In Gratitude for Birds and Blooms

In recent years much of my time has been devoted to the ugly side of life—extreme poverty, war, gender-based violence. In the midst of the ugliness caused by human sin and selfishness I’ve discovered lovely, heroic people succeeding against great odds to bring healing and hope. I am always stunned and encouraged by the goodness of these heroes, but still, the ugliness of life batters my soul.

And so I sit this morning on the stone patio behind my house, watching a mama bird flit in and out of the wooden birdhouse that apparently hosts her little brood of babies. I don’t want to make her nervous, so I choose not to invade her space and peek inside the birdhouse, but oh how I’d like to see what’s in there! My husband and I are not serious bird-watchers, but we’ve become very serious bird-listeners. We both work at home during the early hours of the day, with books and laptops open on our respective desks. Our favorite mornings are those when it’s warm enough to open the windows and sliding doors so we can listen to birdsong while we read or write or pray. How can such tiny creatures achieve such volume? And how is it that the mingled songs manage to sound more like a symphony than a chaos of discordant tunes?

Our patio is shaded for most of the day, so in our plantings and pots I’ve had to settle for hostas, coleus, caladium and impatiens—a limited selection, but thankfully, rich in texture and color. Pink, purple, white, coral, pale green, forest, magenta. What amazing bursts of color—right here in front of me!

I love sitting outside on this stone deck, with my computer on a blue tiled bistro table. I am grateful for the gift of beauty offered by the little slice of nature in my backyard. I need it. I am soothed and filled by it. I am re-energized for work. And I am reminded that in the end, beauty will win, along with love and peace and justice.

My mom just sent me a subscription to a magazine called “Birds and Blooms.” The current issue focuses on how to attract hummingbirds. There’s even an article on how to hand-feed these teeny “hummers.” Imagine that!