A quick disclaimer – I am not a big fan of birds. I don’t mind looking at them from a distance, but I have no desire to be close to a free flying bird. I spent my first 7 years of life in a 3 family house in a city. Pigeons were everywhere. I had nightmares about them growing to be 3ft tall and poisonous.
Finally today I got my toes back to the beach for a walk. There is something magical and holy about the sun coming up on the beach. I love to walk on our beach early in the day, but don’t get there frequently. Making a short drive to the beach for an hour to walk just never seems to be on my to-do list. There are less than 50 school days left – the time to get to the beach for a morning walk is dwindling.
Today, I went and as usual my mind wandered. I am a barefoot beach walker. For me, a beach walk is about toes touching sand & feeling the surf. My walks are about enjoying God’s creation as much as they are about getting exercise. If I just look around and pay attention, God gives me a life lesson in each walk.
Today as I approached the beach, I could see others already in their routines. A man in nothing but shorts walking in what appeared to be patterns where the water and sand met; it seemed to be his own personal labyrinth. Next came a woman with her sneakers on and headphones in her ears, eyes fixed down the beach; it seemed she was missing the entire point of using the beach for her walk. There was no communion with nature, appreciation of the sea. Her walk would have been the same inside a concrete box. A runner came by running hard in her sneakers, but her focus and intensity were in harmony with the pounding surf. Finally, ambling along came along another soul like me, perhaps what I want to be in 20 years. Barefooted in shallow surf, walking stick in hand, hat shading her face this older woman was prepared to enjoy her journey.
More people appeared on my walk. Some walked or ran in harmony with the beach. Others seemed to be exercising in spite of the beach.
Then came the birds, and they made me look at the people again.
The first birds were all standing on one foot at the water’s edge. My approach was an obvious threat. Birds began scattering, but not by flying off, thankfully! Instead, most walked away calmly a few even hopped off not bothering to put down their foot. A few feet away the flock settled in again. They had handled my approach in a calm orderly manner.
A few yards further down, I encountered a small bird. This bird was a tiny nervous critter. He was already quickly pacing about in the surf. My shadow caused him to break into a run for your life panic. He skittered away as fast as his tiny legs would talk him. My approach caused mass panic.
The sun came up higher in the sky and I began to walk back. The seagulls had come out. The seagulls were different. The saw me approach, turned their heads away from me and took a few steps away from me. It felt like being shunned. I have no need for you human. Bring crackers and we will talk.
How often do we get caught up and flee in panic from the smallest threat like the tiny birds? I know I get myself all caught up in a tizzy. Trying to run from task to task and never really getting my goals accomplished.
The gulls with their standoffish behavior, glaring back over their shoulders at a threat. Choosing to ignore their problem rather than face it.
I like the birds that did not even bother to put their leg down in my presence. There I was a potential threat, but I was not going to deter them from their current task. They moved out of harm’s way without panic or distain. The hopping birds stayed on task.
Today, I hope to just stay on task despite the distractions or stresses that may loom over my day. How about you?