Some loved ones create delight by keeping their bird feeders stocked (with the avian-approved, “good stuff”) and waiting for the delight. Hours of it come in flashes of cardinals, blue jays, orioles, finches, variegated blackbirds, black-capped chickadees, mourning dove, sparrows, and the seasonal many others. They are delight on the wing, “wingborne” snatches of a common grace present in the general environment but focused at the feeders. Yes, there are the fat squirrels and the after-dusk racoons, interlopers in something not intended for them, but who are they to turn down a good deal in that extension of common grace? All are distinctive, and all take part in what is offered.
That wingborne delight comes from the givers’ provision. The “good stuff” is not cheap, nor is it second-rate, the kind some birds turn away from–they understand stingy giving and simply choose something else. The givers give for the sake of present and anticipated joy, liberally, and they get to share in grace redoubled. It all comes from a life-attitude, not a singular, selfish desire just to enjoy the local wildlife, but to show they share somehow in a common life borne of a common provision. It is so with the birds and is potentially true for all their relationships! As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.
The Father provides, and so do his children. Grace is a gift received and given. Providence is divine, but people pass it on to others. It is not only spiritual or only material, mostly these are inseparable in the gift. Either way or together, through the Spirit there is provision and there is delight. It is the wingborne foundation for a life of joy.
Our international culture lore and our use of domesticated birds abounds with the birds and the “wing-beat” of their work and significance: storks bring children to parents; the hummingbirds–Mayan divinities incarnate–do they not sip the gods’ nectar? The gospel dove descending upon the Son of Man (or in gospel songs on people as the Great Speckled Bird or the Snow White Dove); the swallows heralding spring at San Juan Capistrano; the American Bald Eagle, bird of peace first, then war; the albatross of Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; the California Sespe condors–a weak flock though they are outsized fowl. The pampered peafowl of India. Moving closer to our hearts, and table habits, the Thanksgiving Turkey (the wild turkey does indeed fly, yes, Sir, Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia and the Pilgrims of Plymouth!), and, just as with the chicken-domesticators of the Indus Valley, 6,000 b.c.e., do we not all (well, most of us) partake of the yardbird, aided these days by the Arkansas Tysons and the Texas Pilgrims? And eggs, too.
About the wing-beat, in another entry.