Bird Brained May 28, 2021

Our church sits on 24 acres on the outskirts of Tallahassee.  One of the pleasures of working here is the surprising array of wildlife that shows up regularly.  Over the years here, I’ve seen deer, wild turkeys, peacocks, rabbits, an impressive variety of birds, and even a bison!  All of these sightings have been a delight and a welcome break from staring at my computer screen.  Only occasionally has the wildlife caused any problem.

The first problem came from the wild turkeys.  One day, I heard a rapping on the glass sliding door downstairs.  With my co-worker, Dori, I went to investigate.  On the patio were a few toms pecking at the door.  Pecking might be too tame a term.  It was more of a ferocious pounding.  Concerned that this behavior would eventually crack the glass, Dori grabbed her phone and recorded a video of the “attack.”  Now we had evidence for the insurance adjuster, but how could we deal with the turkeys?  We decided that the turkeys could see “other toms” in the reflection of the glass doors.  If we could block or reduce the reflection, maybe they would go away?  We gathered up large pieces of cardboard, propped them up on our side of the glass, and waited.  Sure enough, it worked.  The toms, satisfied that they had vanquished their opponents, waddled away.

The latest problem happened yesterday.  Dori and I heard a thumping sound coming from the sanctuary.  We quickly discovered the cause of the noise.  A male cardinal perched on a small tree just outside the window.  Suddenly, he hurled himself at the glass, over and over. Having had luck with changing what the turkeys had seen, we tried the same solution.  We pulled large plants in front of the window, hoping to change the reflection that the cardinal saw.  That didn’t work.  The cardinal continued its assault on the glass, and I was deeply concerned that it would kill itself.

I decided to see if I could scare the cardinal away from the tree.  Gathering up some ribbons, a tambourine, and a set of sleigh bells, I went outside with the step ladder.  Risking poison ivy as I waded through the planting bed surrounding the sanctuary, I managed to hang my psychological “scarecrow” on the highest branches I could reach.  For the next several hours, all was quiet.  I went home feeling satisfied that I had saved that bird.

Early the next day, I received a text from Dori with a picture of Mr. Cardinal once again outside the window.  My reaction was to re-double my efforts to save the bird.  When I arrived at work, I immediately went to the kitchen. There, I got a roll of aluminum foil and a roll of tape.  Back in the sanctuary, I climbed up on the cabinet below the window and taped long sheets of aluminum foil to the window.  Knowing this was the best I could do, I returned to my office.

As of this moment, I don’t know if this solution will work.    Given the rigidity of that bird’s programming, I expect it to start up again any moment.  I realize that I may have to make peace with what occurs.  Accepting the situation might be hard for me to do.  Like most humans, I am hard-wired to make things better.  I am reminded, however, of a phrase from the New Testament:

The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them whenever you want. But you will not always have Me.  Mark 4:7

The usual interpretation of this passage relates it to those who have fewer material goods in the world.  It strikes me as more appropriate to see this in light of the metaphysical meaning Unity sets forth.  The poor are those whose consciousness stays fixed in the earthly realm no matter how many times they hear higher truths.  Mr. Cardinal, not endowed with the ability to think, cannot rise above his programming. The part of his wiring that causes him to fight an opponent, even when that opponent doesn’t take action against him, is unalterably programmed into his brain.  Nothing I could do, short of cutting down the tree he perches on, will change his behavior.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because we are also programmed to behave in set ways.  By the time we’re seven years old, we’re effectively programmed for life.  No matter how long we live, we just “lather, rinse and repeat” the same thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we learned as young children.  Unless that is, we decide to consciously re-wire ourselves.  It’s not easy, but we can do it.  The question is:  Do we want to keep banging our heads on the same damn window, or do we want to live with more ease and grace?

To change our wiring, we start by noticing when we’re out of balance.  We can experience discord physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Tension or anxiety are often the harbingers of imbalance.  Don’t ignore these precursors.  Step outside of your environment and look at what’s going on internally.  No judgment or criticism is allowed; just noticing.  The act of noticing is the first step toward higher consciousness.  This simple act allows us to separate into subject and object.  We no longer have to be identified with our thoughts, feelings or behaviors.  We can see that it is our programming that is causing the discord.  In the present moment, we can then choose to see that all is well within us.  The peace we seek is ours.  Rise above the bird brain within, and we will soar across unlimited skies of higher consciousness!

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