Starving and Eager to be Fed

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I was surprised this year by the return of migratory birds. It felt like the first week in February was too early with night temperatures still running near zero. With several inches of snow and ice on the ground there was very little food for the birds to forage or materials for building nests.

When I wrote this column, it was snowing…again…lightly…but still. Many of you know how much I love the snow, but this year the love affair is so over—I want a divorce! The weather had been hard on the song birds, too. There were days—and nights—of blizzard conditions where chickadees were under my awnings, fluffed out and holed-up.  A sweet but pitiful sight.

Red-winged blackbirds are usually the first to return to our area in the spring. They like open fields and are seen perched on teasel stalks. This week the only parts of the teasel showing were what was left broken and bent on the field of snow. There hasn’t been a sighting of the red-wings yet. These may be the wiser of the birds this year.

The bluebirds, the poor dears, have arrived.

Bluebirds are solitary birds and have territorial battles often. This week I saw them in a way as never seen before—in a flock.

While doing breakfast dishes, I looked out the kitchen window and was amazed to see 8-10 bluebirds in the crab apple tree. The whole flock of them each had a tiny apple and were pecking it frantically as if starved—which they probably were. The tiny apples looked like bells as they swung back and forth with the bluebirds rapid jabbing. The whole tree appeared to quiver.

A few crab apples had fallen on top of the snow and a couple of bluebirds were sharing in the meal, unmindful of each other. Not a single bird was disturbed nor gave up their fruitful dining when joined by an assertive red squirrel.

The territorial nature of the bluebirds was cast aside when they were desperate and their world harsh. The birds that first found food were a signal to the others who then followed. It is in times of hardship that they looked to one another for guidance and relief.

When things are tough we often come together, and by our actions point the way to what is good. When we act in community with what God has provided, all are fed.

Image by GeorgiaLens from Pixabay .

 

The Added Burdens of Winter, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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Lord Hear Our Prayer,

During this season of continued storms of snow and ice and freezing rain, in the relentless cold and winds that chill our bodies and our spirits, let us remember our priests.

They too struggle with this weather. Not only to meet the demands of being a priest, they also ache in their hearts for those who are most vulnerable: the poor and homeless, the elderly and the sick—those who have become isolated.

We pray for our priests who feel overwhelmed by the needs of their flock. We pray for our priests who work with limited resources to help those in need. We pray that our priests find strength in you for the burden they carry when they cannot help everyone who needs.

Lord hear our pray that our priests persevere in the challenges of a burdensome winter that threatens the people whom you have entrusted to their care. Amen.

Image by wisconsinpictures from Pixabay 

As Winter Comes, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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For some folks I know, the coming winter is not starting off well, as mine had not several years ago when I faced similar issue; the furnace had stopped working and it’s really old.  Their house is cold, the water pipes are getting colder, and winter has just begun.

Let us pray for our priests who also struggle in the cold, that their dwellings remain warm and secure. That they are safe travelling when called upon during winter storms to aid a parishioner. Let us pray, and continue to pray until Easter warms us all.

Amen

Image by cmpsiegen from Pixabay 

Drifting Prayers that Rise and Fall like Snow

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Sitting in my oratory, I finished the Salve Regina prayer. I then looked from the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe out the window at a gray winter’s morning. I felt heavy that morning, down, and I didn’t know why. Kissing the blue millefiori rosary in my hand, I returned it to the porcelain dish, and the beads chimed against its sides. I picked up the Liturgy of the Hours from the table and rested the book unopened on my lap next to the long-haired silver cat purring in her sleep.

Thoughts drifted, memories came and went, prayers and praise rose and fell. Somehow, conflicted in the solitude, I felt grateful and sad.

Again I looked out the window. The morning’s light had increased and I saw it was snowing. A delightful memory filled my heart…

I was seven again, lying on my back on the Flexible Flyer sled and wearing a one piece red-quilted snowsuit. It was early morning, very early. Snow had fallen through the night and when I woke the flakes were still coming down. In my excitement I’d hastily bundled-up, pajamas underneath, and in the pre-dawn light left the house without breakfast. No one would be at the hill and I could play freely.

Two blocks away was Martin Road Park and a sizeable hill for sledding. Up and down I went a dozen times or more, until I lay panting and happily spent beyond its skirt. Rolling over on the sled I faced the clouds and giggled as snowflakes landed on eyelashes, and cried with a love so deep there were no words. The only thing I could hear that morning was my heartbeat and breathing. Snow is quiet and it quieted a world that was, for me, hard and loud. At the age of seven I had experienced, for the first time, the sensation of peace.

Since that moment, snow has carried for me that memory of peacefulness. It quiets the world. It slows people down.

My focus returned to the oratory and fell upon my grandmother’s gold-tone crucifix. The snow outside continued and I wondered if manna had fallen the same way in the desert—if it lightly built up on stems and leaves and covered the ground. I wondered, too, at the conflicted People of God who praised and soon griped at that perfect gift grown tiresome.

And I see in myself how often I gripe about something that is ultimately for my good—forgiveness for example. Forgiveness, much like gathering up manna can be a chore, and tiresome in its repetition. But ultimately it brings what we need, and I know how grateful I am that forgiveness exists.

I stood and walked to the window and watched the snow coming down and make white all that seemed dead and dark. I felt again the peace the seven-year-old me knew, of gently falling grace.

(11/15)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

In Blizzards and Winter Storms, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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Lord Hear Our Prayer,

During this season of continued storms of snow and ice and freezing rain, in the relentless cold and winds that chill our bodies and our spirits, let us remember our priests.

They too struggle with this weather. Not only to meet the demands of being a priest, they also ache in their hearts for those who are most vulnerable: the poor and homeless, the elderly and the sick—those who have become isolated.

We pray for our priests who feel overwhelmed by the needs of their flock. We pray for our priests who work with limited resources to help those in need. We pray that our priests find strength in you for the burden they carry when they cannot help everyone who needs.

Lord hear our pray that our priests persevere in the challenges of a burdensome winter that threatens the people whom you have entrusted to their care. Amen.

Image pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons.