For the Birds . . .

Posted: May 10, 2012 in Theology, Things of Faith
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been a pretty active and “outdoorsy” type of person and as such about five years ago I took up the hobby of watching and identifying birds. For many years I have had a fascination with these peculiar creatures. It began when I was a young adult and an avid hunter. While I spent the fall in the woods hunting deer, I especially spent time hunting water fowl. It was during this time that I began to learn how to identify the different types of ducks and geese as well as other types of birds we would sometimes hunt.
After a decade or more of hunting, I moved away to return to college and was forced to sell my shotgun to help pay the bills. My hunting relationship with the birds ceased. In fact I didn’t spend much of any time out in the woods and swamps. During this time of education and formation, my life changed significantly. This, however, was not an overnight change. Over the next ten to fifteen years both my faith and perspective grew significantly. What I once took for granted soon held new meaning. I gradually found myself with a new perspective of “my-self” and my relationship with the rest of creation.
Often times when Christians talk about their faith they associate it strictly with their new relationship with God. While this is certainly the central element, what is often left out is the change in relationship that necessarily occurs with the rest of creation. When I began bird watching, it marked a distinctive change of my identity. No longer did I believe it the right and responsibility of human beings to take what they want from this earth. Scripture passages, such as Genesis 1 & 2 and Romans 8 contextualized my existence because of my relationship with God through Jesus the Messiah. Somewhere along the way I became aware that all creatures (and creation) have a stake in the eschaton. Human beings are not alone in this. In fact, the scriptures lead us to believe that human beings are stewards and caretakers of creation. This was a primary purpose of human existence. So gradually, as my faith relationship developed, so also did my relationship with creation.
Now when I go out into the woods, it is to observe and identify. And yet I don’t do this for scientific reasons, as important as they may be. In the process of observing I discover the return of childlike wonder to my being. To observe the nesting habits and various calls is remarkable. I am continually amazed by the diverse beauty and mannerisms of these creatures. I suppose what when I step back to reflect, I am amazed at how my faith journey has run parallel to my developing perspective of the environment. The way my relationship (at least my perspective of it) with creation has changed reflects the transformation the rest of my life has experienced. Each time I am able to go out and look at my feathered friends I am filled with gratitude for the magnificent creation. It is during those times that I experience God’s shalom in transcending ways. There is no time like the spring to begin watching the birds.

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