Behold the birds of the air; they do not sow, reap, or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Jesus
I was driving over the Norris Hill with a friend and looking high above the hill we saw a flock of large, white birds flying around quite aimlessly. Manny gazed at them for a moment and said, “There’s a flock of pelicans up there.” He paused and added, “… they just seem to love to fly, don’t they?”
I peered up at the aerialists and had to agree. They were not flying south for the winter or north for the summer; they didn’t appear to be looking for the river or lake, nor did they seem to be on the hunt for food. They were in a formation of sorts. That is, they were flying loosely together in one direction and then another, but their turns were slow and lazy, and not quite in sync with one another if one was expecting the military precision of the Blue Angels, but certainly their aerial choreography had a sweet rhythm to it.
As we climbed the hill heading home toward Ennis I could see they were enjoying the thermal drafts carrying them up; when they got as high as they felt appropriate they turned and began their slow spiral back to a lower altitude and then, once again, they would find a draft to carry them high aloft for another ride into the wild blue yonder.
Looking back on that trip, I couldn’t help but recall Jesus’ remark about birds. They do not plant, nor do they reap, nor do they store up in barns or fruit cellars, and yet God takes care of them just fine.
That doesn’t mean birds don’t have to work for their supper, of course. Pelicans have to go fishing, robins have to go worming, and hummingbirds seek nectar. All creatures, including sloths and nematodes have to take care of themselves for the sake of survival. The point is they don’t seem to fret over it.
Out on my deck I have a Valley Girl tomato plant I bought at the Farmer’s Market in town one recent Saturday. She had some nice flowers in June and today has three tomatoes. I was disappointed in the numbers as I was hoping for more. I wondered if I should have gotten several plants; maybe she craves company. She has a wonderful home and, when I caught a deer trying to make a meal of her I chased it off the deck and blocked the stairway. I have become quite maternal over my baby (and her babies).
I keep an eye on her soil and see to it she has the water she needs; I protect her from predators and the wind; I chat with her each day to see how she is doing. I have also gone online to research tomato basics to ensure I am meeting her needs.
Growing up I was taught to remove suckers from tomato plants but learned it is better to leave them alone. They do not steal nutrients but will produce fruit of their own – I did not know that!
So, if I – the poster child for Brown-Thumb-Gardeners – can figure how to take care of a silly little tomato plant, how much more is God – the Author-and-Giver-of-Life – able to take care of the silly little creatures we are?
Like the birds, we each need to do our part to make sure there is food on the table and a roof over our heads. I believe God created us to be creative and productive; I also know that not all “fear and anxiety” is created equal – some of us suffer from mental health disorders of which fear and anxiety is a part.
Jesus was not addressing mental illness, but the sin of avarice – greed – which steals our joy because we fear losing what we have and believe we need to have even more in order to “be” happy.
To we avaricious types (and that afflicts most of us, I suspect) Jesus says, “Look at the Pelicans. With their wings they rise on thermals and return safely to the earth. They let go, and they let God.”
I want to fill my wings with God in this, our valley.