Today I have been pondering an experience I had a few years ago. It occurred while walking our dog along a parkway lined with trees, in spring or fall, I think.
High in the trees to my left were gathered a few big, noisy black crows. The cawing of crows is a loud and strident sound, and the noise level of this little group demanded my attention. I looked up and watched them. Their appearance and sound was impressive but foreboding.
As I passed I noticed another bird beyond them, perched on a much lower branch. It was a catbird, and he was quietly giving quite a concert. Catbirds are not large birds, and they are not much to look at--just gray. Their song is a series of brief imitations of bird calls and other sounds from the surrounding area, including a distinctive mewing. They often hide in shrubbery or lower tree branches when singing. I love listening to catbirds, and since this one was also unexpectedly visible, I enjoyed the moment.
Sometimes I think about the stark contrast of behaviors I observed that day. The crows might be likened to the worries, fears, and daily anxieties that sometimes plague each of us, or they might be voices that invite or influence us to think or do things that are not in our best interest, that are wrong. The quiet catbird is another voice, perhaps our conscience reminding us of good choices, or lovelier things we could be focusing on. Perhaps it is the still, small voice of the Spirit. Which one will we choose to listen to, crows or catbirds?
It seems that the Christmas season is a prime time for crow voices to lure us to their side, so to speak. They try to divert our attention with the demanding caws of shopping, wrapping, mailing, baking, crafting, partying, eating too many sweets but trying to look good, and the guilt, stress and anxiety that follow. We need to take time to seek out the catbird songs of gratitude, peace, generosity, and kindness. We can do this by spending quiet alone time to ponder what this season is really about. For me, that is taking the time to pray, read scriptures, and remember the true focus of Christmas, Jesus the Christ. And good music helps!
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