Saturday, December 3, 2011

Living in the woods with birds that ask: Can you believe this?

If you are in the Charlottesville area, I hope you will join us at St. Paul's Memorial Church for a very special time today with Barbara Crafton, a noted author who will be leading us in a workshop entitled "Prayer in the Hard Times." We start at 9 am, and we should be done at 3 pm. The cost of the workshop? Free, our gift to you. Please come if you can. I will write something later in this space for Sunday about our time with her.

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Around our place the leaves have dropped from the trees and we can see the mountains beyond once again. We lost one of our chickens the other day to a predator. We live in the woods on the side of hill, and it is beautiful here, but this is a wild place, and life can be a struggle for the animals that live around us.

Each morning we hear the chirps of small gray birds -- the tufted titmouse -- at the feeder on the back porch. Their chirps never vary and I sometimes think it is a recording.

The tiny birds swoop in one at a time, take a few seeds and skitter off into the woods to break them open. Apparently they don't fly south for the winter, or no one told them to go. We will keep putting on the seeds as long as they come around. They are a tough little bird.

Our friend Karen from Tennessee sent this other day, a poem by Richard Levine. May you have a restful and fruitful Saturday:

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Tufted titmouse
Believe This
By Richard Levine

All morning, doing the hard, root-wrestling
work of turning a yard from the wild
to a gardener’s will, I heard a bird singing
from a hidden, though not distant, perch;
a song of swift, syncopated syllables sounding
like, Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
And all morning, I did believe. All morning,
between break-even bouts with the unwanted,
I wanted to see that bird, and looked up so
I might later recognize it in a guide, and know
and call its name, but even more, I wanted
to join its church. For all morning, and many
a time in my life, I have wondered who, beyond
this plot I work, has called the order of being,
that givers of food are deemed lesser
than are the receivers. All morning,
muscling my will against that of the wild,
to claim a place in the bounty of earth,
seed, root, sun and rain, I offered my labor
as a kind of grace, and gave thanks even
for the aching in my body, which reached
beyond this work and this gift of struggle.

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