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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Birding for Peace

I'm not always sure if the cup is half empty or half full. Listening to the radio as I drive around, its easy to get depressed. There are wars I didn't support, but can't see a clear way out of. The economy is stumbling somewhat--and many people are economically worse off than I am. News on the environmental front is at least 5:1 on the half empty side. Many things seem to be controlled by macroeconomic factors that I have little chance of impacting. What's an idealistic guy like me to do?

Sometimes, all I can do is to bird. To head out and commune with the birds. To turn my back on the evils of our day and celebrate billions of years of evolutionary history in all of its glory. To worship God in the woods, wetlands, and fields. To affirm my commitment to life. And to freedom--be it of birds, bison, or people--to choose their fate.

How did the female Red-breasted Merganser find itself separated from others of its kind and floating on Lake Galena at Peace Valley with a thousand Common Mergansers? Why is the young Northern Harrier sitting on a bluebird box at Pine Run? Why did the juncos, cardinals, bluebirds, and titmice stop mobbing that owl roosting in the neighbor's azalea? I can only barely fathom the processes behind the choices that these birds make--just as I only slightly grasp the choices and consequences made by six billion humans on the planet. And even if those choices cause me pain, cause me to live in a world of wounds, I have to celebrate and affirm our rights to make those choices. And when I'm too tired to try and influence how those choices are made, I retreat to the woods to celebrate.

At this holiday season, when the days in the Northern Hemisphere are as short as they get all year, I celebrate light and life and choice. I may not be able to save the world. But I can celebrate it. Even while others are making choices that work against light, life, and choice. Especially then.

Watching the Canada Goose flocks come in low overhead, I am birding for peace.


Anonymous said...

What came to mind when I read your post was this monolog by "Red" in the Shawshank Redemption, "RED: I have no idea to this day what them two Italian ladies were singin' about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singin' about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away... and for the briefest of moments -- every last man at Shawshank felt free."
Peace to you and yours...Vern

Eva Matthews said...

Excellent said. Birding is cathartic on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

So true. Sometimes all we can do is our best. I think the challenge is in appreciating the value of what we do locally and on a small scale, and not thinking that solving the big world problems is the only contribution that matters.

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