The pigeons and white doves flying about in our neighborhood have always fascinated me.
I also recall with fondness the little brown mayas back in our previous community who’d visit our backyard every single day, as soon as they learned of my bag of treats for them– sunflower seeds.
So amazing how they quickly discovered where I put these, for then they’d line up, one by one, to peck at the plastic pack that held these precious delights. It was as if they instantly knew it was theirs for the taking.
Not only that, funny how they could also show their preference — just like any pet animals. These brown mayas would never want to eat any sunflower seeds, if I scattered them or even put them in a container on the ground! Maybe they thought the ground was not clean enough for them to feed on?
So each time I’d buy a new pack of seeds, I’d just place it on the sink counter outside. But they’d come only at certain hours of the day — in the morning and in the afternoon! Gluttony is never in the nature of birds.
Now in our present home, the pigeons here offer me a daily dose of delight, both sensual and spiritual, especially in this time of the community lockdown and restricted movements due to the Covid pandemic.
And they provide me with inspiring life lessons as well, which I am sharing here.
- Birds are so human in their ways.
Observing them for the most part, I’ve come to learn birds – pigeons, doves, and brown mayas — are as human as can be. The only difference is they take life as it is without much qualm, unlike our human tendency to whine or worry.
- Creatures of habit and routine, they start their day almost as the sun starts to rise and peer from the eastern sky. First order of the day is to stand in formation, if they happen to be in a flock, and fly together, circling the air above, as if paying homage to our Creator God. Then they go on flying up and low, round and round, above the metropolis, in what it seems to me their early morning exercise. To strengthen the muscles of their wings. To gain greater speed. To scour for food, like catch a worm or two, maybe, unless they have owners who feed them.
They disappear from my view for a while. Then one by one, they fly again to rest on the rooftop of the next building, where they stroll, flap their wings, or simply rest and gaze at the city below.
- My winged friends enjoy bonding together as in a community, whether flying or at rest.
- But they also love to take some ‘me-time’ — time for being alone. Socializing and being in solitude are essential to the well-being of our winged friends.
Just like birds, we also need time for our own ‘me-time’ — when we can go deep into ourselves, reflect, and converse with God, or even just spending some few minutes in silence to get our bearing and be nourished by Him.
- They are masters in waiting meekly for their turn. Most of all, they are patient, relaxed, and ever so calm, serene and graceful. Nothing in their movements shows them to be worried or perturbed or restless. Maybe because they trust in their Creator God to care for them no matter what. As is said in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”
This nature of theirs speak to me clearly especially at times I get so overcome with anxiety, frustration, even despair.
- Soar up into heights they fly in stately elegance, yet they humbly return and perch on the ground or wherever they can find rest in this urban jungle. Humility. It’s a constant reminder no matter where in life we go, how lofty or lowly our position in society is, or how much we have achieved or still striving to, our everyday living should be a reflection of Christ’s humility and obedience to God’s calling and mission for us.
Read also a related post of mine, Morning Lessons from the Birds.
I can’t help but compare these flock of birds with religious communities, such as those of contemplative nuns and monks. For while these religious communities are cloistered in their convents and monasteries and donned in their long habits, these birds are free to move up and around resplendent in their colorful feathers.
Yet both communities – human and avian alike — share the same pattern and rhythm of daily life. Communal yet with time for solitude and quiet; working/flying and worshiping, exercise, and rest — all these make up their everyday schedule. And let’s not forget the virtues of trust, faith, humility, and love that our feathered co-creatures mirror so well.
I do believe it is God’s way of showing us, through the pattern and rhythm of birds’ daily life which religious communities are practicing, together with the virtues they are striving to live out, that this way of life is good — for our physical and spiritual nourishment and wellness and growth.
I note from stories and status updates of friends and relatives, that many have been incorporating this pattern and rhythm into their daily lives since the start of the pandemic. So it must be one good thing that has come out of this global health crisis. And it’s about time we did, don’t you think so?
- Oh there’s another thing I almost forgot — singing is essential and second nature to birds, as well as religious communities — for singing is the highest form of praise we can offer to our Creator God.
“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.” — Lois Lowry
Wisdom comes in all we see, God writes His lessons in each flow’r, and every singing bird or bee can teach us something of His power.” — Maud Lindsay