My Nano Patch

                          My Nano Patch – Meditation on Birds

Since early February, Mark has been asking me if the doves have
returned.

I developed a gardening hobby when we moved into our house a few
years back, so I promptly bolted a piece of 2x4 next to our back door
to hang a few garden tools that did not fit in my tool chest below it.  

About 4 years ago, a pair of doves claimed the narrow strip of real
estate behind the shovel on my handy tool rack for their home site.
By the time the daytime temperature had warmed up sufficiently for
me to venture out into my garden, the doves had comfortably settled
into their new home. I often wondered if they would’ve selected this
site had they known beforehand that my gardening fever would drive
me in and out the back door as frequently as I did in warmer
weekends. I wondered too if they were scared of such close encounter
with me each time I passed by within arm’s length of their new home,
as I went in and out of my garden.

Of course, my shovel, rake and pitchfork became permanent fixtures on
the tool rack – at least for as long as the doves occupied their nest to
raise their young. Good thing I had a spare shovel.

Since then, several broods have been successfully raised. Each time
the nest emptied, I felt like a proud parent too.

For the past couple of years, a few neighborhood cats have been drawn
to my waterlily pond. The sight of goldfish swimming in the pond
proved more irresistible than the beauty of the waterlily, I’m sure. I
noticed that Mocking Birds were very good at sounding warning calls
when cats have been spotted in the neighborhood. Whenever they
sounded the alarms, all the other birds scattered.

As usual, triggered by lengthening daylight, warmer temperature and
increase in the seed (food) production, the doves returned last year to
reclaim their tiny real estate behind the shovel.

Within a month, hatchlings emerged.

I went about doing my gardening chores as usual, reducing my
activities and slowing down as much as I could…. Weeks went by;
hatchlings became fledglings.

One day, I opened the back door and discovered the nest empty. It
seemed a bit too early for the fledglings to fly the coup. Then my
worst suspicion was confirmed – there were dark red stains on top of
the tool chest directly below my handy tool rack.

Actually, there had been an unsuccessful attempt at hatching a year
prior. Egg-spills on top of the tool chest ended last year’s brood. I
attributed the egg-spills to the adult birds’ clumsiness.

Now, I am not so sure.

So, as we head into the warmer March this year with lengthening
daylight and increased seed production – three elements necessary to
induce mating and nest-building – why have our doves not returned?
Mark’s inquiries now seem to have found a ready explanation.

Last Saturday, as I dug around the garden getting dirt under my
fingernails (t’was about time), I noticed a lovely male finch with a
burnt orange face and breast singing his little heart out perched on the
Redbud tree between two Italian Cypresses. I instantly recognized the
activity – nest-building must be going on. Sure enough, moments
later, I saw a female finch with a yellow leaf in her mouth disappear
into the Italian Cypress on the left. They did the same thing last year
in the Italian Cypress to the right.

Well, Mark, I have not given up hope on the doves yet. But at least
now I have a pair of house finches to keep my expectation going. And
what a pleasant bonus this is – the male finch has a nice repertoire of
songs! In between searching for food, he flies back and perches on top
of the Redbud and sings his little heart out. All day long.

A couple of weeks ago, Dale and Helen came back from visiting some
fellowships in the Toronto and Buffalo areas. They told us of a frozen
world covered in snow. For people who live in the South, it is a rare
treat to see a world covered under snow – so pure, so clean, and so
quiet. So quiet in fact that the morning after they returned home, they
were surprised to be awakened by a welcome committee of birds
singing in their yard. It was a pleasant assurance that they have
returned home from the frigid North.

As I pondered over this story of birds, I was struck by the way the Lord
cares for these little creatures. I was also struck by how happy they
were – their simple faith that spring would surely come following a
frigid winter, that daylight would lengthen, temperature would warm
up, and food production would come in. They express their gratitude to
the Mighty Creator by lifting up their voices and sing their hearts out.
They provide the best environment to raise their families in….

I was a bit overwhelmed by the many spiritual lessons that can be
gleaned from the story. For one thing, before home-building
commences, temperature has to warm up, daylight has to lengthen,
and food supply has to increase. Likewise, for us to firmly make our
home in Christ, we also need to have our lukewarm heart touched by
Him, be brought out of darkness into light, and find in Christ our all
sufficiency and abundant food supply.

A lukewarm heart not only hinders us from being rooted and grounded
in Christ, it also keeps us from being knitted and built up in the house
of God with the saints. Certainly, not walking in the light, not taking in
Christ as our all-sufficient food supply will also contribute to the
demise of a house in ruins.

Srini mentioned yesterday that the Lord touched him about the “walled-
off debris” in his life. That was definitely a ray of light, was it not? I
can see much debris in my life too. I need the Holy Spirit to increase
the “daylight” so that I can see myself and see Him clearly to keep
walking in the light.

When our relationship with the Lord is not normal, we tend to wall
ourselves off from the Lord and from the saints. No one wants people
to see the “debris” in his life. When Adam severed his relationship
with the Lord, he “walled” himself off by covering his nakedness with
fig leafs/debris and by going into seclusion.

Sometimes too, we might think our relationship with the Lord is better
than everybody else’s – we have better light, warmer heart, and more
abundant food. This can be especially true when we see each other’s
faults and shortcomings, then we withdraw into our ivory tower. But
the problem is really our overblown self-conceit. Whenever we “wall”
ourselves off from the saints, spiritual deception follows, and our
“home” will be desolate.

Fact is, no matter how good our relationship with the Lord is, we
ALWAYS need to be balanced and adjusted by the Lord through the
saints – even the less melodious ones.

Then, as our home in Christ is being constructed – debris flying, warts
and all – one important lesson is to learn to “sing,” isn’t it? Our
“singing” encourages each other. It impresses each other what a
wonderful God we have. It sweetens our hearts for a tender reception
of each other’s portion of Christ. Oh, how graciously the Lord has given
us each other! Here from my little perch, I can see each brother’s and
each sister’s life has been dealt with by the Lord and is rich in
melodies of grace. And we need each and every one’s “singing” to
bring forth the full octave of His redemptive love.

Not all the birds can sing each other’s songs; not all the birds have the
same repertoire. The Mourning Dove’s cooing may not be as sweet as
our little finch, but it has its place in nature. So is the beauty in the
body of Christ – each member is necessary and important and
precious. The hand cannot say to the foot, “I have no need of you,” or,
“I am better than you.” We need each other’s singing, and we need to
learn each other’s songs.

Dear saints, let’s not belittle our songs. Let’s not bury our one talent.
Let’s hear each other’s songs.

There will be times when tragedy strikes. Dangerous beasts do lurk in
the dark. Unpleasant as they may sound, the alarms of the Mocking
Birds do help us locate and deal with the source of troubles….

Well, Mark, the doves may not have returned to their nesting site, I
feel like I have returned to mine. When I hear the “singing” of the
saints, I’ll know I have come home. Thanks for asking.

Oliver Peng
03/08/04