One of my favorite pastimes at my Mom’s home in Chazy, NY, was watching the birds come to eat at her three bird feeders. The feeders were placed right outside her kitchen window so we could watch the birds whenever we sat down at the table to eat. Early every morning I would sit at the table, watch the sun rise over the distant mountains, read my Bible and have my morning prayers. By the time I had finished the birds would be coming for their morning meal of birdseed.
Yellow finches would come in flocks and nervously perch on the feeders, easily quarreling over the desired place on the feeder. The chickadees, smaller and plumper than the finches, were not as nervous in their feeding, preferring to focus on finding the best seeds than on picking a quarrel with their neighbor. Sometimes there would be sparrows, once in while a woodpecker and some purple finches. And then there were other birds that I can’t remember their names any more.
Especially during my visits in the winter time, it was most interesting to watch the small birds try to find the birdseed when the feeders were covered with several inches of snow. In community they flew around the feeders brushing the snow away with their wings until they could get at the seed. When a feeder was empty, they would keep returning every few minutes to check if we had filled it yet; they didn’t easily get discouraged. They trusted that we would not let them go away hungry.
My prayer chair in our Maligaya home here in Manila is right by a 2nd-floor window where I can look out into the branches of the trees in our pocket garden. As the dawning sun touches the branches, the birds begin to sing their happy melodies. They flock into our small garden looking for seeds to eat and twigs and grass to strengthen their nests. There are several pairs of larger black birds with white-tipped wings and tail that dance around and around flicking their tails in a courtship dance.
As I watch the antics of these lively little birds, I am reminded of the verse in Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us: “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?”
We also have a feeder with abundant food in it to go to: the Word of God.
How should we approach this source of our spiritual food? By imitating the birds in their natural ways. We need to look for the food that will nourish us, to keep coming back and searching for it until we find it. The birds do not get discouraged, they do not lose hope. Why then should I get discouraged if at first I fail to understand what I read in God’s Word?
The birds come to the feeders usually in flocks, gaining confidence in the strength of their numbers. The BCBP is my flock, the community of caring brothers and sisters that encourage me to persevere through life’s challenges. As we come together in fellowship, we receive food for the soul from each other. I also gain spiritual nourishment through the writings of Christian authors, of the saints, and even of ordinary people who are able to view life through enlightened eyes.
God used my Mom, may she rest in peace in His arms, as the channel of His grace for those small birds. She kept the feeders filled with birdseed throughout the cold winter seasons. Those small country birds depended on her, even as she depended on them to entertain her through the long winter months. And God watches over me, over all of us, as He does the birds. When He sees that our stomachs or our souls are empty or dry, it is not long before He supplies what we need. He sends us what we need via different channels: spiritual nourishment and inspiration through the Bible, guidance and teaching through the Church and the Sacraments, and the blessing of Christian fellowship and community in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals.
I often go back to that scripture passage: Matthew 6:25-34, on why we should depend on God and not be anxious about our daily needs. I have learned to look to the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields whenever I feel discouraged or worried about the uncertain tomorrows. And Jesus always reassures me: “My child, are you not more important than they? … Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be yours.” Then I take a deep breath of the fresh morning breezes that caress the birds singing in the branches right outside my window and say, “Thank you Lord for loving and caring for me as You do these cheerful little birds.”