The New Neighbors

The new neighbors and I are sharing some time together this morning. I don’t usually visit with neighbors before 7 a.m. on a Saturday, but I’ve made an exception. These neighbors moved in quite unexpectedly, and I suspect them to be transients. I hasten to add that they are quite noisy, regularly waking us before our established time to greet the day. Still, they show themselves to be very committed to their young family, whom I have yet to meet.

Before my feet hit the floor in the morning, they are fully occupied in their activities of daily living. This visit is surprising, really, given the clash of the neighbors’ undeviating commitment to early morning family care with my more relaxed pattern of incrementally taking in the new day. Truth be told, this visit is hardly mutual, yet I find it immensely enjoyable. The neighbors, you see, are a family of red-bellied woodpeckers who have taken up residence in a tree a few yards from our bedroom windows. Our back porch affords an unobstructed view of the rigorous ritual of feeding and protecting the little ones. Rigorous, yes, but free of anxiety. I watch as another tree-dwelling neighbor stops by uninvited, poking its nose into the family dwelling – not once, but twice with the same rebuff – sharp pecks on the nose effecting a hasty retreat and redirection elsewhere.

I’m grateful for my Franciscan reverie this morning, and its reminder of Jesus’ invitation: “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.” (MT 6:26, MSG) This morning has become for me a time of worship of the Living God, Creator, and Provider, who teaches me the way of non-anxious engagement in the ministry of caring for the Lord’s beloved ones, and does so through a visit with red-bellied woodpeckers.



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