Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I often take early morning walks with the family dog. During one of these a few years ago, I noticed some big crows high in a tree near the edge of the road I traveled. It was a small group hanging out together, making their presence known by lots of raucous cawing. Their large size and strident noise demanded my attention.
As I walked on I heard another sound from bushes nearby. It was a catbird quietly singing while hidden from view. The catbird is a mimic whose song consists of a string of short snippets of various sounds from the neighborhood, including other birds. Occasionally catbirds mew like a cat. They are nondescript, shy birds, who concertize alone from the midst of shrubbery and thick, lower tree foliage.
There are always a few catbirds in my neighborhood, and I love listening to them. Their songs are never the same, and the tone of their voices varies. For example, this spring I listened to one of the sweetest voices I have heard to date. On a rare occasion I have had the treat of seeing the bird sing for a brief moment. He never stays in sight very long.
As I continued walking I thought about the contrast between the crows and catbird. One was quiet and unassuming with a beautiful voice, the others part of a loud, noisy and rather crass group. To me their behavior was a type of voices of society, so to speak. Or perhaps they represent the voices of temptations and our conscience. Perhaps the catbird is the quiet voice of the Spirit, so often buried by the voices of the world.
Every once in a while I am reminded of this experience. I'm thinking about it this month because of the news I read. Much of it is like the crows I heard-- bold, raucous noise intended to get my attention. And some of it is pretty crass. For me it is necessary to focus on the catbird's song--to take the time to listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit. This means reading and pondering the Scriptures every day, and redirecting my thoughts to virtuous things. It means seeking out the positive and good and dwelling on them. It means moving forward with faith in God despite all the nasty crowing around me. We all can choose which voices to focus on, even when some of them are screaming. What do we really want...the mournful sadness associated with November's crow or the sweet, joyful song of the catbird in spring?
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