Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Forgiving Jumping Jerry-- old friends that fly

Red-headed bird

The man had the nerve to put a big red X (it was monstrous) next to BOBOLINK.

Had I known more about rare sightings, I would have understood, but I was a young teen in his biology class who had seen bobolinks several days at the same exact spot... do you want directions?

How many times have I been birdwatching, seen a glimpse of motion, searched for a clear view, said "it's only a robin," and move on in hopes to see something rare... something beautiful? Too many.

I walk outside my house and I see the common. The folk who live on my street. Sometimes I stop. If I walked out and saw Marry Anne from Oregon, Chuck from Illinois, Aqilla from Philadelphia, Dougie from Massachusetts, or Gair from North Carolina... then I would stop whatever I was doing and make time for this rare sighting.

I ventured out to see birds today. No binoculars, no bird guide. Old friends came by to say hello and by their shape, habits, colors, sounds, and size... I could greet them by name. Even the much despised brown-headed cowbird got my attention, but in that moment a eastern kingbird flew over its head. The kingbird landed on a fence causing a bird to take flight. Yes, a robin perched a few sections down and said, "go ahead look at me, I am beautiful, even if I am a dime a dozen here in Pennsylvania."

Jumping Jerry in sharing his passion for birds and requiring all of us to make a list, placed a seed in my heart. 1983 began with me having hit rock bottom, a place where my heart had become icy and blue. Given another chance by parents, I followed my heart and it led me to birds. My heart learned how to care by loving these creatures. I am pleased from what has thus grown from that seed. You are forgiven for the red X, an imperfect man saved me.

And yes, I have seen a bobolink again. Once in 30 years, and it happened on my birthday as I walked by a field of very tall grass. A glimpse of motion caught my eye. An extraordinary blessing, as was this morning's visit from old friends.

And while forgiveness is being spoken of, I ask for yours Jerry. I can't remember where that nickname came from but I don't think is was meant to flatter. 30 years later and I can only hope that I do the same for a student even as they call me an old man as my hair turns gray.


  1. A robin hops up on a fence and a young boy nearby takes aim with his slingshot. Years pass, the same scenario occurs, and the boy, now an old man, is hit in his heart by the Creator of both he and the bird. Time and the Spirit can both work wonders in us as we go...

  2. I have a wonderful memory of a field of boblinks outside Ithaca NY many many summers ago.

  3. Jim-- I recently had some time to be grateful of those wonders that heal us and bring us to our true selves, to God.

    GG-- we were just in Ithaca, I saw no bobolinks, but ate some great tapas.


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