As I write this, I am watching a white-throated sparrow flittering around on the snow-covered ground, desperately looking for something to eat. Other birds join her scavenging -- the black-capped chickadee, the oddly-named tufted titmouse, the tawny Carolina wren and the round-bodied mourning doves.
I watch with both amusement at their frosty beards and frantic scurrying, and with admiration at their tenacity. What is this drive within them to keep foraging, to keep looking, to keep going, despite sub-freezing temperature and blinding snow and sleet? There seems to be a belief – no, it’s more than that – a kind of trust that if they keep at it that eventually they’ll succeed, a trust that some source will provide to them what they need, even in the bleakest, the scarcest of times.
We too have experienced our own literal and figurative winters over the last 18 months. We can each list myriad challenges, losses, suffering that we and those we love have endured. And we are reminded that for many, those bleak winters have been present for many more months and years. What wisdom are we to take from these avian creatures who have lived on the Earth in some form for the last 250 million years? Can they teach us about our own winters? About how we might trust that somehow that the source will also provide for us despite the cold and the ice?
As I continue to watch these bird buddies from the warmth and safety of my home office, I say a little thank-you for their being there with me. When faced with the challenges of winter, these birds have not flown off to sunny climates as others have, nor have they joined the bears and turtles and insects underground to wait out the winter warmly and safely underground. They remain. Here. Steadfast in their work, and in their trust. And I know that they will be back again tomorrow morning.