Looking In the Mirror

The Thrasher looks at the metal.

There’s a Thrasher who’s taken up residence in the backyard. Who knows, it could be the same one I rescued some months ago.

This Thrasher has adopted a daily morning routine. The other day, I noticed a rhythmic metallic tapping sound. It was a tap, tap, tap-tap, and tap with a pause and then the pattern would repeat. The pattern reminded me of similar routines that some of the Woodpeckers that frequent our property display, so

I started scanning everywhere for the sight of a bird – the house rain gutters and trees. The sound was coming from the back of the pool. I finally focused my visual search on the grill gazebo and potting table, and then I saw it.

There on the metal rungs of the standing rack of the potting table, I spied something brown moving back and forth. It was a Thrasher. The bird was jumping from the horizontal supports framing the standing rack where an aluminum panel attached to the stand, and then jumped to the protruding hooks which lined the front of the panel. Each time, the Thrasher seemed to look first behind the panel and tap, and then jump to the front rungs, look at the panel, and then tap again. It would repeat this routine for nearly 15 minutes.

The bird checks repeatedly for the 'other' bird.

It was obvious the Thrasher was seeing its’ own reflection in the aluminum, and then trying to figure out why the ‘other’ bird wasn’t leaving each time it was pecked at. The whole episode was quite entertaining so I took some pictures.

The Thrasher has continued this ritual now for nearly a week. The longer I watch the Thrasher’s routine the more I begin to equate all kinds of other things to what I’m initially seeing.

For example, the Thrasher’s almost ritual-like behavior reminded me of some patterns of regular behavior in my own life. Every work day for 21 years I had routinely gotten up at dawn and then fitfully commuted over 100 miles to and from work. Most of the time, during that commute, I found myself fitfully languishing in bumper-to-bumper traffic and wishing I was anywhere else but sitting there. The stress would get so bad even listening to the radio wouldn’t help me. I’d find myself angrily talking to the traffic reports on my car radio. They always seemed to tell me I needed to avoid a certain road situation after it was too late.

The commute was heavily congested.

I ended up taking all kinds of alternate routes in my commute, without even listening to the traffic reports. The change seemed to ease the stress the traffic built up in me. Intead, I’d listen to soothing music and wouldn’t care how out-of-the-way my circumnavigation took me as I drove – I felt freed, I was escaping the box that was slowly smothering me.

Watching the Thrasher hopping back and forth brought back the memory of that past job routine in my life. It also rekindled the dulling hurt to me that I’d been laid off and how long I’d been searching again for steady work. That recollection and what I was deriving from watching the Thrasher seemed to connect with my present as I pondered the birds’ actions.

In time, the Thrasher stops its seemingly insane cycle and moves on. For me and many of us facing similar challenges in our lives, this observation holds volumes of hope. Like the Thrasher, we may find ourselves sometimes feeling trapped or locked into something we don’t want to really be doing. While watching the Thrasher, I recognized that I too could be fixated upon something that wasn’t there; things change. Cycles have endings as well as beginnings. Once again, looking out into the natural world in my own backyard I found its’ unspeakable beauty embraced me and gave back all that I had sought from it.

Rhythms and patterns, seasons and change; those were the thoughts that dawned on me as I looked at the revelation that came with the movements of the Thrasher. Could it be this silly routine is another one of those simple ways our Creator keeps trying to relate to us?

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