I did a little rearranging of my mantel this week, from one winter theme to another. Winter here seems determined to drag on with bitter cold temps and near daily snow. Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to bring out anything yet suggesting that spring could be nearby.
Chickadees always have been my favorite bird, and for some reason, I was reminded of this cross-stitch I made at least 35 years ago. Digging it out of the attic, I decided it would be the theme of this simple mantel decor.
Nearly as long ago, I found this sweet wooden Chickadee in a gift shop at Cypress Gardens in South Carolina while visiting a dear friend. It has always been a treasured reminder of my favorite bird and time spent with my favorite friend.
But even more important, these two items remind me of lessons learned from a sweet and gentle Chickadee who would visit my feeders. Many winters have come and gone since then, but I can still feel the sensation of his tiny feet on my hand. Remembering it even now, gives my heart a thrill.
One morning while filling the feeders with the usual mix of bird seed, I noticed a small flock of Black-capped Chickdees in the tree. As I approached, they all scattered – all except one. He seemed especially inquisitive, friendly and interested in the scoop of bird feed I carried in my hand. I stood very still, so as not to frighten him. Slowly he worked his way down to the lower branches, and soon he was closer than I have ever been to such a tiny, wild creature.
I tried to coax him closer, but realized it would take more than just usual bird seed. A special treat is what was needed here. So I quickly retreated into the house, and returned with broken pieces of walnuts that I placed amongst the regular bird seed.
For the next few mornings, I repeated the procedure, leaving behind a small sampling of walnuts. Every morning as I arrived, my flock of Chickadees were there waiting. All of them scattered to a safer distance – all except one. His natural friendliness and ever so slightly larger size, set him apart from the rest of the flock.
By this time, all of the Chickadees knew the difference between bird seed and walnuts, and walnuts were definitely the food of choice. One morning, I filled the feeder with the regular bird seed, but withheld the walnuts. The walnuts were still available, but now only from the palm of my hand.
I waited patiently with walnuts in my hand, when to my delight and amazement, he hopped into my hand. He quickly grabbed a piece of walnut and flew to a nearby branch to eat his treat. The thrill – oh how can I ever describe the thrill he gave me? It had all happened so fast, I could hardly believe it was true. Would he come again? Would he honor and bless me with his presence another time? Yet, the next day, he did come again. Over the next few weeks, we came to enjoy a continuing and ever deepening relationship based on trust.
It is from this sweet, precious Chickadee, that I began to learn the lesson of trusting God. As I held him in my hand, I felt blessed and honored beyond words that he should trust me with his life. At any given point, I could have tried to capture him or harm him. But I knew in my heart, that I would never, ever betray his sacred trust by attempting to capture him and keep him for my own. Of his own free will he came to dine from my hand.
So it is with God. He waits patiently for us to come to Him, of our own free will. And when we do, we honor and bless the God of heaven as we put our trust in Him. If we could only comprehend the thrill we give God when we entrust our life in His hands. This wee Chickadee taught me the valuable lesson, that just as I would never dream of hurting him and only wanted special things for him, God would never harm me. I learned in a deep way, that I could trust God with my whole life.
I am sorry to say that the other Chickadees could never bring themselves to this point of trust. They were fully aware that he was dining on walnuts while they were only eating bird seed. And although it was evident that they desired to taste again the pieces of walnuts, their anxious and fearful natures kept them from dining on this special delicacy.
As always, winter eventually gives way, and spring reclaims its ground. With natural food becoming more available, the Chickadees came less often to the feeders. But it was at this point, that he added a further joy and level of trust to our relationship. With warming weather, I spent more time about the yard, tackling the chores of spring clean up. When I was least expecting it, I would hear a flutter of wings in the bushes. And there he would be, seeking me out, waiting for his treat, (which by this time I had learned to always keep in my pocket). Instead of me looking for him, he was looking for me. Never had he honored me more.