Who would we not love …
“Who would we not love, if we only knew their story.” ~Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB
I wonder sometimes if you get tired of my pictures of birds. But these are my friends, they are my community. I live in a house containing only one member of the human community — me — two canines and an untold number and variety of birds (who stay outside, of course).
Buddy the WonderDog is rather camera shy. JesseDog and I don’t mind the camera, but we aren’t the most prettily pleasing of subjects — our age is showing. But the birds? They love to pose for me — or so I like to think.
And I love to watch them, to listen to them, to discover their various personalities, their likes and dislikes.
Some are more fearful and flighty, like the Stellar and the Scrub Jays. They will scold me if I have let the nuts dish go empty. They are big, they are sneaky, they are noisy and they are greedy. But they are also frightened. The slightest movement and they fly away, squawking and flapping furiously to the nearest high branch to take shelter from an imagined impending doom.
The tiny finches are quiet and brave. I open the door, a mere six feet from their little dinette, and they pause only to look up long enough to identify me as the rude intruder and they go back to their seeds.
I marvel at the Red Winged Blackbirds. They fly in as a flock, they grab a quick bite, and off they go again. But while they are there, if a smaller bird, a finch or a sparrow, flies in to the feeder I have seen these larger, intimidating birds look up, spot the small sparrow and then skootch over to give him some room.
The Other flies in and he makes room for the other Others at the table.
I have seen this over and over again.
Who would I not love, if only I knew his story?
The sneaky, robber Jays? They are the bullies of the playground. They who make their way through life stealing from others, greedy and grasping. Riding through the air, bold and boisterous, yet full of fear and anxiety. They travel alone.
Watching the Jays has been a lesson in love.
I am reading from Uncommon Gratitude: Alleluia for All That Is by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams. At the end of a chapter called “Otherness,” Sister Joan says:
“It is the God of the “others” whom we too seldom come to know, and so we remain spiritual orphans whose God is too often only ourselves speaking—and a full volume.
“Who is the “other”? The “other” is anyone who is not made in our image and likeness. It is anyone who is not ourselves. It is the one who is not of our race or our faith tradition or our citizenry or our language. It is the one who shows us to ourselves.
“The “other” is the one who teaches us that we are not the whole world. We are only a piece of it waiting for the “Other” to make us more than we were when we began. Alleluia.”
I have learned to not just tolerate the Jays, but to love them. My heart has learned to smile when I see them, to soften when I hear their urgent bellowing. It was not an easy path from irritation and scorn to love. And I have yet to take what I have learned from the Jays and apply it to those in my life who are the Robber Jays of my Peace, but I have hope that I will. Someday.
Who, today, will you love (or try to love) that you have never loved before? Choose someone.