Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Rattling Song

If you're a homeowner, chances are you like a well-groomed yard, free of such "eyesores" as dead trees. But many nature lovers sigh in regret when a "useless" snag is removed--because many birds depend on old treeholes for nesting.

One family of birds makes its own holes. There are nearly two dozen species of woodpeckers in the U. S. and Canada, and most of them prefer dead trees to live ones for digging out nesting places and tasty insects. Some woodpecker species regularly seek out whole tracts of dead trees, usually remains left by forest fires.

The woodpecker is not much of a songbird--most species simply rattle or squeak--but it is still a welcome friend in backyards and parks. There's something bright and cheerful about these industrious birds, marked in various striking patterns of black, white, red, and yellow, working their way up and around the tree trunks, as busy on gray days and in patches of dead trees as when the sky is clear and the woods full of fresh greenery.

We as humans are supposedly much smarter than birds, but there are times we could learn from them. Too often we look at the "dead trees" of our lives--ruined plans and shattered dreams--and sit down in despair, convinced that all hope is lost and no good will ever come from the remains, never hearing God whispering that He has wonderful gifts buried in the ruins for us--if only we will get to work and dig for them.

Only then will we fully appreciate Paul's words in Romans 8:28 (NIV): "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

In a burnt-out forest where all seemed black,
On a snag in a pile of peat,
A woodpecker sporting a bright red cap
Perched and drilled for an insect treat.

He cared not a bit that the world was ash
For a dozen square miles around;
He tossed back his head with a rattling call,
And the acreage rang with the sound.

He slid up the trunk of the fresh-burned tree,
Which would never again stand tall,
Yet as he dug out food from the remnant bark,
He sang out with a joyous call.

Times come to us all when the world seems black,
Like burnt woods with no trace of green,
When horizons around are all cloaked in clouds,
And all desolate ground between,

And we have not the voice nor the heart to sing,
But can rattle a bit at best--
Yet a rattle may hold some deep hidden joy,
If we choose to withstand the test.

So consider the bird with the rattling voice,
But the jaunty red cap and strong bill--
Even when all the trees of our lives seem dead,
They may hold hidden treasures still.

No comments: