Snow is as much a part of a New England life as Dunkin Donuts, maple everything, or the Yankees/Sox rivalry – it’s normal come winter, and we don’t think much of it. You keep your shovel and boots handy, stoke up a fire, and settle in til the roads are clear. Accordingly, I didn’t think much of the small storm that came through a few days ago, bringing with it some icy winds and several inches of powder, until I glanced out the window to the bird feeders at the edge of the tree line. Dozens of birds, from cardinals to woodpeckers, were braving the snow and wind to collect seed as the snow fell heavier and faster.
I ventured outside all bundled up with my camera in hand in the hopes of snapping a few photos in the the swirling snow, expecting to only get a few decent shots. I was surprised at how brave these little birds were, having this woollen clad monster standing as close as can be to their feeders, a black contraption snapping away in the silence, shifting to find better angles and trudging through the snow.
It didn’t take long for me to realize two “Cardinal Lessons” were hidden in the midst of the snowy wind – those little lessons God gives me when I’m paying attention to the everyday things that I often overlook. Without getting over-analytical or philosophical (you all really don’t need to get too deep into my head, so I’ll spare you), here they are.
His eye is truly on the sparrow.
Or in this case, the finches.
And you guessed it, we are those little finches (you may choose your bird in this metaphor, I suppose, so rock on you cardinals). Papa God’s looking out for us, taking care of us, giving us what we need if we venture outside our comfort zones. Just like these birds know they’ll get fresh seed from my dad (over the span of roughly 3 months he’s acquired nearly a dozen feeders and our birds have doubled in size, so they know he’ll feed them), we can be assured that the Lord will help us to receive what we need to press forward. He doesn’t discriminate or play favorites – those blessings are there for everyone.
I mean, occasionally He probably closes his eyes and sighs at the birdbrained things we do, but it’s only because He loves us enough to care, right?
But just think! God told us time and again in the scriptures how much He loves those sparrows of His – but He also told us that He loves us SO MUCH MORE.
How comforting is that? To know how much He loves us? To get a glimpse of that eternal and perfect love?
(and it’s a step up from being compared to the dust of the earth, so there’s that)
We’ve got to make the choice to participate, to learn and to grow and to accept what He gives. Accept the blessings, accept the love, accept at times the chastening. Not just accept, but receive. Make it a part of us, of who we are. He knows us individually and perfectly, and He’s keeping an eye on us, cheering us on, and helping to choreograph the blessings in our lives. He’s also offering loving, if stern, correction. If we gather up the courage to brave the storms, we know He’ll be there, hands outstretched and waiting for us.
And like my dad never seems to run out of birdseed for his birds, God will never run out of blessings to shower on us as we seek Him out.
Birds of a feather flock together.
Have you ever noticed that the more birds are gathered, the more daring they become? It’s because they’re comfortable and gather strength from one another. I’ve watched as a papa cardinal stands watch over a dozen assorted birds while they eat – from the slightly obnoxious woodpecker who hits metal more than he hits suet to the little chickadees who squabble over millet to the finches who refuse to be still for more than five seconds to the placid mourning doves who scour the ground for leftovers. And it’s not just the finches looking out for the other finches, it’s all of the little guys watching out for each other. It doesn’t matter what they are, just that they’re focused on the same thing. And when they’re all gathered together, not much fazes them. Together they’ll drive off the squirrels and aren’t scared by the dog tearing by like an idiot.
People are much the same. In addition to the short attention span we tend to share with our feathered friends, we gain strength from gathering just like they do. It’s a lot easier to see the blessings you’ve when you’re sharing them with those around you (and your birdfeeder gets replenished more frequently, so there’s that). And, God promised that when a few are gathered in His name, He’ll be there too (unless we’re all crows, because murder isn’t cool).
I know personally that I learn so much more when I’m able to do so alongside friends and family. I find strength each Sunday as I gather together with members of my congregation to partake of the sacrament, to serve, and to worship. I love that gathering is part of God’s plan! I mean, sometimes we ruffle each other’s feathers, but hey. The atonement is real.
Guys, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are just so cool. Yes, they’re perfect and infinite and omniscient, but they’re also just really down with going with the flow and teaching us on the fly, in the everyday little moments. They have so many things to teach us if we’re paying attention. I mean, I had a ‘come to Jesus’ by chilling outside (literally) with the birds for forty five minutes. These are very personalized lessons they’re giving us, if we just look around with greater awareness (and a sense of humor, I mean, I’ve spent this entire post comparing us all to birds). And just because they’re small lessons doesn’t mean they’re no less important.
So let’s all remember that we’re God’s sparrows (or flamingoes, toucans, or pelicans, I mean, you do you, hun), and that Father’s keeping an eye on us, and also that we’ve got the coolest flocks around to gather strength from. So let’s do it.
You bring the sunflower seeds, and owl bring the bird puns. Don’t make it hawkward.