Spending more time outside in nature than I have ever done (since being a kid, that is), I have been discovering new things. Strange new things. Like how the birds have suddenly disappeared and gone silent.
Vinny knows. I kept bugging him, saying over and over again, “There’s something wrong! Have you noticed?”
Since Spring I’ve been waking up early to the cheerful sound of singing birds. Now I can sleep in late and not hear any. Or very few.
Since Spring I have been delighted with visitations of comical Catbirds in the shrubs, Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, (just kidding – not literally) and all sorts of other birds flying about doing their busy birdy things.
But suddenly the earth has gone quiet. And not just the birds, but all the obnoxiously loud frogs in our pond have gone quiet too! The only consistent sound is in the evening, from some sort of cricket mass making a steady unified hum, like a natural white noise.
Today I’m relieved, however. I found out it’s just August being August.
Yes, it took a several weeks of being puzzled over this mystery, to finally do some research and find out that I’m not going mad. And the birds haven’t all died. They are in fact still all around us, but simply resting and doing as little as possible – and August is an important month for this! In the Spring, (once they arrived here after a long migratory flight) birds sang their heart out to attract mates, and then spent many weeks nest building and child-rearing. During this time they not only had to find enough food for themselves, but to feed several hungry mouths, too! It’s all very exhausting. And, it takes a toll on their feathers.
This is why the hot month of August (also July) is a month when most birds molt. It’s sometimes not a pretty sight to shed these old, dead attachments, and it’s not easy to fly well during this time, either. Some studies think birds get depressed during this time, or at least seem to be a bit grumpy. But the fact is, they are going through a needful transition. When the season is over, they will have grown new feathers and gained their strength back. And when it comes time to migrate back south to a warmer place, they will be ready and raring to go!
There is an obvious lesson in the seasons of nature, that there is a time for work, and a time for rest. A time for being productive, and a time for being like a seed buried in the ground. Do people go through seasons like this together, as the birds do? I believe so. At least with the people I have been most intimately connected to, my experience is that we are in the same boat going through similar ebbs and flows. Plus there is another example of something we universally go through together – sleep.
Unlike birds, however, we often spend important times for restoration and growth doing exhausting and unnatural (anti-nature) things that don’t truly satisfy or rejuvenate us. And then we wonder why we are still tired after a vacation, weekend, or a night’s sleep! Instead of operating from an inward guidance that is in tune with our truest selves, and our Maker – we often resist the need for “pulling away” and truly resting. Why? I think sometimes that when our bodies and spirits suddenly call us to this deeper place, it feels like a “death” compared to the exciting and productive season we may have just come from. And in death, it doesn’t feel so great, and we have to operate by faith, instead of sight.
Being more like the birds, however, we can accept the darker and more quiet “valleys” of our life with hopeful resolve. Listen more. Go inward more. It might not feel like anything is happening, but if we trust in God’s love for us, and patiently submit to a walk of faith during this time – we will come through. And not just come through, but come through with renewed strength.
P.S. After recently discovering this information about birds and molting, this verses from Isaiah 40:29-31 may be of new interest!…
He gives power to the faint; and to him that has no might, he increases strength.
Even boys grow tired and weary, and young men collapse and fall,
but those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength.
They will mount up with wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary; and they will walk and not faint.