Birds: Buntings and Grosbeaks

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The rain is calming. It is steady but falling gently. If you silence the chirping birds, you can almost hear the grass and the flowers and the weeds growing. Drenched in rain, they are singing the song God the Creator has put in them.

Recently, I sat with a friend and watched the falling rain; my friend (he or she) pointed out, “Isn’t the best feeling the splash from the rain hitting the ground?” I suppose so.

After the long fall from far above, a raindrop hitting the ground isn’t violent. It’s calming.

As I write this, Silas is snoozing at my feet. I watch his golden coat turn a dark copper red the longer he lies in the rain. His nose to the air, he sniffs a mystery my nose can’t solve—some faint spring perfume drifting in the wind. I wonder what he dreams. I wonder what he feels.

Two days ago, an oriole fed at my hummingbird nectar. Twice the size of the feeder, itself, I watched him drink deep before he departed for the next leg of his journey. “Where have you come from, friend? To where are you flying?,” I thought as I looked at him. I hope he gets to wherever he is going safely.

Today, two of my favorite birds found their way to my makeshift aviary: indigo buntings. In addition to their striking blue feathers, I am fond of this little bird because of their song, which is full of wonder and awe for life. “What! What! Where? Where? See it! See it!” That’s what they sing. Like Silas, they don’t mind the rain. Neither do they seem bothered by their neighbors: the cardinal, the yellow finch, and—a new favorite—the rose-breasted grosbeak. What community do you have? What are you teaching me?

At this moment, I am astonished by the colors in my backyard: copper, crimson, amber, saffron, indigo, cream, ivory, and jade. All these fancy words, but there’s no need for them; the colors are pure… they are gentle: red, yellow, blue, white, and green. Who knew heaven was right outside my back door?


Chances are good that by the end of the day, I’ll lament at least once that the rain means I’ll have to start my cantankerous lawnmower. But that’s for then when the chirps and songs of my feathered friends will be interrupted by the ballads of small engines that mow the dandelions into oblivion, and life will be back to its usual, hectic self. But that’s for then when the gentleness will turn to jaggedness.

All these simple, often unnoticed glimpses of grace will be gone…until the next time, I take the time to set aside the ‘work’ and watch the world go by.

With all of this, I can’t help but turn to Psalm 8:
“O Adonai, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?”

That’s the good news, friends. God has gifted us with creation. It isn’t meant to be used or exploited but cherished and loved in a way that all of creation is celebrated, honored, and adored.

How will you celebrate creation? How will you name God’s presence? Or maybe you need to ‘let go’ of something to delight in God’s goodness.

Perhaps we could be like the bunting; perhaps we might sing our own song and tune... but—just maybe—we might sing with them in one, common lyric, “See it! See it!”

Adam Quine, pastor at First United Presbyterian Church in Lincoln


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