When we get a little anxious and worried, sometimes, it may be a good idea to go out into creation and do a little bird watching. In fact, why not do this regularly and get some exercise at the same time?
On a recent morning, I opened our backyard gate, and in the first ten metres of walking, I observed two Straw-necked Ibis forty metres away on the edge of a pond. Fifty metres further on, I paused to watch a Superb Fairy Wren with his incredible iridescent blue colours flitting around the branches of a tree. Overhead in the higher branches, red wattlebirds let me know of their presence. Then I turned to the west, walking on a gravel track for a further one hundred metres, and two black ducks descended steeply in front of me and landed on a pond of water with their webbed feet skiing on the water surface momentarily before stopping. Overhead a couple of galahs winged their way across the sky, as did a couple of Eastern rosellas—what an incredible kaleidoscope of colours those rosellas are!
A white-backed magpie warbled nearby. Then, for the first time, I observed and photographed a red browed finch right near the place where I have been swooped on a number of occasions by a Spur Winged Lapwing (plover) as it defended its young. I moved a little further through the eucalyptus trees and stopped and listened. There were twenty or so tiny Yellow-rumped Thornbills flitting their way through the leaves of the trees around me. It is a delightful little bird that sings a distinctive song described as “twittering, musical, sweet and
high-pitched”. I enjoyed standing still and just looking and listening to the birds for some minutes in the stillness of the early morning. I find “being still” is good for the mind and spirit. There is a calming influence, and the worries of the world can be left behind for a few moments. In fact, our Creator tells us in the Bible to “Be still and know that I am God”, Psalm 46:10. There is no better place to “be still” than in the quietness of creation, quietly observing the good things our Creator has made.
Annette Spurr writes, “A while ago, I was struggling with anxiety as I walked through a particularly stressful season in my life. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, literally causing pain in my back and neck. My heart racing, tears flowing, I stepped outside and lay down on the thick carpet of grass in our backyard.
As I lay still, gazing upwards, slowly, the thoughts in my head quietened, and for the first time in a long time, I started to hear birds happily chirping as they flittered to-and-fro and the wistful hum of bees as they gathered around a tree bloom. A sense of peace and lightness came over me”. (Eternity Magazine, 8 April 2022). Some psychologists and counsellors are calling these present days the “age of anxiety”. It seems many young people and older too are especially anxious, having been through a pandemic and worrying about the future.
But, Jesus said in Matthew 6:26-7, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”.
Worry is not good for us. Worry can damage our health, consume our thinking, and slow our productivity; it is “stewing without doing!”. Worry can also negatively affect our relationships with others as it consumes our energy and causes us to be “glass half empty” people.
How do we discern between worry and genuine concern? Worry immobilizes, but concern moves us to action, positive action. Jesus encourages us not to worry about those needs our Heavenly Father promises to supply. So I hope many of us can regularly find a quiet spot to slow down and look to the birds that sing, the bees that buzz, observe glorious sunrise and sunset colours and give thanks to our Creator for them all.
‘Keep your eyes open for God, watch for His works; be alert for signs of his presence. Remember the world of wonders He has made.’ Psalm 105:4-5.
– Rev. Bruce Stewart, for New Life Aus, 14 May 2022
– Photo by Rev. Bruce Stewart