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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Barn Swallow lesson

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) L 6 3/4” (17 cm)

Several weeks ago, to my delight, I noticed the barn swallows were back. Every year for almost 30 years, I anticipate their return, the long journey from South America. Upon hearing their excited chattering, I run outside to watch them fly the perimeter of the field, feasting on mosquitoes, veer toward the cottage, over the garden fence, and straight under the broad eves to the back porch light where they’ve nested for eight of those years. I’ve watched the animated chatter as the female turns around checking the nest’s fit, feeling it out, the male watching. This year I didn’t hear the chatter, just a single “chip” when three swooped under the eves. They did not stay long. Perhaps the pair was not pleased with the surroundings, pushing last year’s soggy mud mixed droppings to the aggregate below. While we were gone this last week, they built up the nest with fresh mud.

For some reason, I have been generally anxious for the last few weeks, culminating in a non gentle spirit. Perhaps it is the adjustment to retirement, perhaps it is our trouble making a lot of decisions or knowing what to let go and what to take on or build up, what is someone else’s or my problem. I think about the tasks and challenges tomorrow and next month and it keeps me from excitement and the present day peace. I have tried to organize, clean out the clutter not only of our house, gardens but my mind.

I read yesterday, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”1
I argue, “But I am human birds are not. They have no free will to be anxious.” Doesn’t anxiety depend on free will? “…be not anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”2 That’s easy to say. I guess I have a conscious choice. But I can’t drum up peace. Now, I get it. Forgive me Lord. You want me to ask you, Lord, for peace. I know I pray for others but have forgotten about myself. Give me peace and focus on this day’s task not tomorrow’s trouble.

To my delight today, peace is back. I hope it doesn’t leave tomorrow. See I forgot already. One day at a time with your help, O Lord. Yes, as you direct the birds in their long journeys and provide for their food and nest sites, help me to trust you to direct my path in this journey of life day by day.

1. Matthew 6:25-27

2. Matthew 6:33-34

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