We are now observing summer hours on Daily Episcopalian. Rather than six essays per week, we will be running five, with fresh essays appearing Sunday and then Tuesday through Friday.
By Peter M. Carey
At my family’s cottage on Cape Cod, there is a bird feeder place in the middle of the front yard. It has been there for 20 years or so, made of brown metal, on a black pole. It has a kind of a perch for the birds to sit on which “shuts off” the access to bird seed if an animal larger than the average bird tries to get the food. It is designed so that squirrels and blackbirds will not be able to get to the food. Over the years, this bird feeder has been given new life through a black bungee cord which helps to keep it attached to the pole, and also through several stakes pounded into the ground and fastened to the pole, so that it continues to stand more or less upright.
Recently, I was sitting and watching the bird feeder out of the corner of my eye during a Sunday morning rain shower. The birds came steadily to feed. Sorry to say I am no accomplished birder, but I recognized red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, blue jays, robins, an agile blackbird or two, as well as countless little birds beyond my ability to identify. What was also remarkable were two chipmunks who found a way to climb up the pole, onto the perch, and who filled their cheeks with food and then scurried down and into the woods. The chipmunks took turns, it seemed, to grab the food and then sock it away. At times, the chipmunks shared the perch with a bird or two, and at times the chipmunks startled the birds, and at times a bird startled the chipmunks. But, on that Sunday morning, there was plenty of food to go around. I even saw a courageous and agile squirrel hold onto the top of the feeder and stretch down to eat bird food for several seconds before sliding off the feeder. Luckily for the squirrel, the birds are somewhat messy eaters, and there is plenty of birdseed scattered on the ground.
While not the perfect metaphor or parable, what captured my attention about this old bird feeder is that it gave me a moment to wonder about the internal squabbles of our beloved Episcopal Church. It seems to me that much energy is being spent about who is welcome and who is not (ironic, of course, when you consider our Episcopal Church motto: “the Episcopal Church welcomes you”). I do wonder if we need greater attention to and reflection upon the sacrament of the Eucharist.
On rainy Sunday mornings (and every day), we are fed with the overflowing gifts from God, and we are all welcome and invited to the table. There is plenty of God’s grace to go around, if only we noticed it, if only we refocused our emphasis. I don’t mean to argue for some Pollyanna solution for our very real conflicts; that we only need to say “hey let’s get along.” For I know all to well the hurt, frustration, and anger that has welled up for so many people in the midst of our squabbles. However, I do feel that while we work through present disagreements and infighting we would do well to reconsider the importance of our mutual bonds to one another, at the foot of the Cross and around the Eucharistic Table. There is plenty of food to go around.
The Rev. Peter M. Carey is associate rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Greenwood, Virginia. He blogs at Santos Woodcarving Popsicles.