Like a jewel up among
The tilted honeysuckle horns
They mesmerized and swung
In the palpitating air,
Drowsed with odors strange and rare.
And, with whispered laughter,
And let him hanging there.
–James Whitcomb Riley, The South Wind and the Sun
I’m sitting alone in my backyard watching for hummingbirds. I’m not randomly watching. I’ve put some energy into my backyard this year, which included investing in the livestock. My livestock is of the untamed variety: squirrels, birds, rabbits and such. I’ve placed bird feeders, a little suet feeder, a new bird bath, ears of corn and a hummingbird feeder all where I can see them from my chair in the family room. But my favorite place to watch is from a chair in the backyard, which is where I sit typing now.
It’s frustrating watching for hummingbirds. They’re fast and unpredictable. I’m sure they come and go without me noticing. In fact, I’ve only seen one this year. He was a perfect shade of blue. I’m sure there are more because the sweet liquid in the feeder is constantly in need of refiling. I’m obviously just missing the hummingbirds. So here I sit this morning. Watching. Waiting. Growing impatient and all the while missing the wonderful show the other birds are putting on at the bird bath while staring intently at the hummingbird feeder.
I’m becoming more afraid that our lives are like this. I’m afraid we endure each day for some far away joy and, in the enduring, we miss the joy of the day. We stare intently at some goal or dream or destination all the while suffering through our days and being good little people who keep our chins up. We trudge through our daily jobs and duties with that coming vacation in mind. We plow through our chores and labors just waiting the 3 or 4 day weekend that comes with a holiday. The todays are just endured.
And I’ll make another confession. Sometimes I endure playing with my kids because it’s the right thing to do. I know for me to be a good dad they need my time and my energy, which I always try to intentionally give. But I’m so afraid that I’m missing moments of delight by dutifully enduring this investment of time instead of changing my thinking to enjoying these opportunities of laughter and fun seen only in the sparkling eyes children. I’m also afraid I sometimes just endure my friends too, with all their problems and baggage; missing their joy and smiles.
And we’ve historically done this as Christians. We’ve seen Heaven as THE huge reward to the extent that we’ve failed to enjoy the journey through this life. But God is redeeming our time and joys here and now just as much as He is redeeming us for eternity’s joys.
Still no hummingbirds…
I think I need to change what I’m looking at. I’ll keep glancing back for the hummingbirds but the bird bath is closer and very richly active. I hope you’ll also find a way to enjoy this day instead of enduring it.
“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
-Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, The Message translation
Post Script: If you care, and if you’re a friend on Facebook, you can see more backyard pics in our ‘Spear-World in the Spring & Summer’ photo album!