patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Friday, March 29, 2013

pond-water creatures

Since it is spring, I took my run v-e-r-y slowly this morning so that I could pay attention to the birds. I counted thirty species in six miles. The exciting ones for me were a female northern parula (took me a while to identify it), numerous yellow-rumped warblers (I only ever see them in early fall, when the poison ivy berries are ripe), a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a flock of cedar waxwings (I’ve seen lots this year, for some reason, but they always excite me), and a pair of what must have been purple martins and not house finches because they were red all over.

My reading for today from Jesus’ mountainside sermon mentions birds:  “[D]o not worry about your life,” Jesus advises, “what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26 NIV).

It’s good advice but, in my experience, hard to follow.

I do take comfort, though, in God’s apparent love of birds. Surely he’s not only feeding them but observing them, as I do. Keeping track of their songs and habits. Admiring them. Watching them mate. (Disturbing thought, given the analogy.) Perhaps counting them. (There were forty-two cedar waxwings.)

Spring offers so many reminders that God cares about every part of his creation: the smallest animals—birds, bugs, pond-water creatures. God values “the flowers of the field” and even the grass that springs up everywhere and that, as Jesus points out, we mow off without so much as thinking about it, tossing the clippings into the fire (Matthew 6:28-30). And, according to Jesus, God cares about us humans even more.

Imagine it: Right this second, the maker of all creation is thinking about you! Having a look at what you’re up to. Paying attention.


  1. God does indeed take care of us and birds, too. I look outside my house in Colorado shrouded in bitter cold and I see birds. I thought they "flew south of the winter" but apparently not. I don’t understand how they find food when it is 17 degrees outside much less keep warm but somehow they do. When I see them I get concerned and then I remember about Heloise.

    I used to read "Ask Heloise" in our local paper because I found it strangely humorous - everybody giving advice for crazy problems. Anyhow, one day, I read an article about a lady who got concerned about the birds in her yard because it was like 5 degrees outside. She ran some warm water into a bucket and filled her bird bath "to help the miserable creatures keep warm." After they were done with their makeshift bird bath Jacuzzi, much to her horror, as each one took to the air it immediately crashed down into her yard - the water freezing on their tiny bodies. She hurried to the yard and gathered them up and thawed and dried them out and then released them. She wrote her article to warn readers not to make the same mistake. I guffawed.

    Maybe this is more than a reminder that God does indeed take care of his own - birds, too (even though they typically are associated with evil in the Bible). He takes care of us. He watches over us. Maybe it is even a reminder that when we interfere with God plans it can cause unexpected problems.

    Interesting side note - when I searched Google for the Ask Heloise article I am referring to so I could quote it into this post, I didn’t find it but I did find advertisements for heated bird baths. ???

  2. How amusing that you remember those old Ask Heloise articles. I do too. I also remember reading these absolutely horrifying "Drama in Real Life" stories in Grandma's Readers Digest. You know, guy goes camping and lies quiet while a bear eats his scalp. And a guy stopping to help at the scene of a freeway accident is sent across eight lanes of 80 mph traffic to fetch the hurt guy's leg which has been severed. (I learned, among other things, that one's leg weighs approximately 30% of one's total body weight--which, in the case of a say 200 or so lb. man would be, um, over fifty pounds.) In my favorite story, a guy is resting in one of the bunks in the pressure chamber of a submarine after a deep sea dive. He has to go to the bathroom, so he gets out of his bunk and goes, and the toilet somehow creates a suction that pulls his guts out of him. There is some information included about how freaking long your intestines are. These, in any case, he pulls out of the toilet and bunches together so he can carry them and then climbs back up to his bunk(top, of course) and goes to sleep. Afterwards, in the requisite happy ending, he is found and his guts are stuffed back inside of him and he lives happily ever after.
    Apropos birds and cold weather, though, I have to confess to putting boiling water in my bird bath the other day. It was 17 or so out, and there were, as always in cold snaps, masses of birds around my feeder. I'm sure the water didn't stay hot for long. I watched several birds get them a drink without any apparent harm. I find it hard to believe that a bird could be stupid enough to take a bath in that cold of weather.... But maybe.
    Anyways, the good news was that the 17 degree cold snap brought an eastern towhee to my yard: they're in my bird books as living here but I had never seen one. Sooooooo exciting.

  3. Loved this post. Made me think of that Emily Dickinson line from a letter about how 'Consider the lilies' was the only Commandment she ever obeyed.

    I aim to do better at paying attention myself.

  4. Yeah. And that reminds me of that poem of hers I like about church being the outside.