Carol Varsalona, who's hosting today, has invited us to reflect on the topic "Nurturing Our Summer Souls."
This summer has brought several reasons, some unexpected, for stress and anxiety. Nurturing my summer soul hasn't come quite as naturally as I had hoped. But one thing I have been doing daily is looking at birds, and somehow that always makes me feel better.
I always appreciated Jesus' bird-themed words in Matthew 6:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"
The birds aren't just sitting around waiting for their food to come to them. They are in constant, earnest pursuit of nourishment. But they seem peaceful to us, perhaps because they can fly, or perhaps, as a birding friend put it, because they are outside of the sphere of the things that bring us stress, and we can attach any story to them that we wish.
Even though I always enjoyed reflecting on the ways the birds' behavior comments on human anxiety, it's only been in the last two or three years that I have started to find "considering the birds," as Jesus put it (or "Look at the birds of the air," in the version I quoted above), to be a prescription for anxiety, as effective on the best days as therapy or medication. Maybe it's as simple as turning my eyes away from my own concerns, but lately the words of Jesus cycle through my mind again and again as I focus my binoculars: "Do not worry about your life....Look at the birds of the air."