I love watching the birds at our feeders. We’ve set out a number of different kinds of feeders, which naturally attract different kinds of birds. This feeder, which holds nyjer or thistle seeds, is only accessible to the smaller birds with the shape of beak that can reach within the wire mesh to grab the seeds. Thus this is mostly a finch feeder.
What I love about watching the birds at the finch feeder is that the entire feeder is available to them. As you can see here, there are half a dozen finches, of differing types, all calmly sharing from the same feeder at the same time. It’s a wonderful image of both abundance and sharing. There’s enough for all; no one needs to chase the others away.
I contrast that with the hummingbird feeders set around our house. Each of our three hummingbird feeders have multiple flower ports for accessing the sugar water inside. Yet a couple of Rufous hummingbirds have taken over the two feeders in our backyard, keeping watch from nearby trees and chasing away any other hummingbirds that come to feed. While the noise and the zipping about is certainly exciting to observe, it’s also got to be exhausting and wasteful of precious energy for those tiny birds—especially for those who get chased away.
These two images provide a powerful contrast for how we choose to live in community as human beings. We either choose to believe that there is enough and dwell together, side by side, without regard to our differences, or we become exclusively territorial and waste energy chasing away others of our species, and no one is able to relax and enjoy God’s abundance.
Sometimes the territoriality is blatant, as it was when Russia destroyed tons of Western food earlier this month, so that no one could share in the abundance. But sometimes it’s much more subtle, as in the food deserts here in America. Whether urban or rural, the areas in our country without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food are an appalling reality when studies show that there really is enough food to go around, and yet we humans waste over one-third of what we produce.
I invite you to take these contrasting images to prayer, and ponder how you might respond. How can you encourage an “abundance and sharing” mindset, in your own life and in your community?