Monday, July 1, 2019

Growing more deeply in love, understanding and appreciation

At one point Jesus is reported to have said to his disciples, "there is much more I want to tell you but you cannot bear it now. In time the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth."

The Spirit of God (that is the Holy Spirit) is the force behind life, love , hope, and all of the good creative energies in the world and beyond. The same Spirit of God welcomes us into relationship with the loving God who is the creator of us all.

The Spirit of God is said to be our comforter and our guide.

At different times in our lives we may feel the Spirit of God nudging us to approach life in new and different ways; sometimes through a feeling of restlessness, sometimes through a feeling of inner peace, sometimes through a heightened sense of love or compassion for people and other living things that God loves.

This is true for me with my birding. Actually I feel that I may be experiencing one of those nudges towards a new and different approach to this activity that I enjoy and the birds that I have come to love. Here is the current state of things:

Since 2013 (when I started counting) I’ve located 257 species of birds in Pennsylvania and the year to year breakdown is as follows:

2013- 56 species new to me
2014- 109 species new to me
2015- 36 species new to me
2016- 44 species new to me
2017- 5 species new to me
2018- 2 species new to me
2019- 1 species new to me (so far!)

While there are still 8 species I have yet to locate that have breeding ranges that touch Pennsylvania (bobwhite quail, Kentucky warbler, Upland sandpiper, sedge wren, Summer tanager, chuck-wills-widow, barn owl, and long-eared owl) they are few and far between. And while there are still roughly 150 species new to me that could still be found in Pennsylvania most are exceedingly rare and many of these 150 or so rarities that I speak of are birds that are typically found in other regions (like the Western United States) and somehow got off-track during migration.

Given this information I can either plan to make big trips to far away locations like Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington to maintain my trend from a few years ago of locating 20+ species each year that are new to me OR I can resolve to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the birds that live near me whom I’ve come to love.

In my mind, I want to do both!

 At this point I sense the Spirit of God nudging me to approach birding in somewhat of a new and different way.

I'll continue to seek out species that are new to me when the opportunity presents itself; but I’m feeling led to grow more deeply in my understanding and appreciation of the birds that live near me. Those who know how much of a bird nerd I am may be thinking, “is that possible!?” Time will tell my friends. Time will tell.

I also think that this is bigger than birding; what I sense the Spirit of God doing through this activity that I enjoy (birding) is a truth that has bearing on how I approach all of life.

Growing to know and understand the land and it’s inhabitants more deeply is a life discipline within which I experience a sense of community with all that has life; humans, plants, animals...even the elements of water, rock, air, and fire...as all are embraced in the creative love of God.

Here are some of our local bird species whom I’m hoping to grow more deeply in understanding and appreciation of.

How do you sense the Spirit of God nudging you?



 (Virginia rail at The Muck)

 (Marsh wren at The Muck)

 (Northern parula at The Muck)

(another photo of the same Norhtern parula at The Muck)


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