by Melissa Taft

by Sue Duby

It’s coming. I’m struggling to contain my excitement. Wishing the weeks of 70- degree sunshine -“bad hair day” winds – tornado watches – snowflakes – warm sunshine again weather would vanish. Longing for quiet moments on my backyard porch swing, sweet bird songs filling the air, and green shoots of wonder popping up in every garden bed. 

The signs say it’s begun. Delicate white blossoms spreading across the branches of our pear tree. Tulips popping up in a massive clump, ignoring the reality of my total neglect. Robins pecking mulch, in hopes of a juicy worm or two. Peaceful magic beginning to unfold, until… 

Chuck shouted from his window view: “They’re back!” A glance confirmed it. I  swallowed a scream. Daring to hop about my yard and begin their take over … the grackles.

We learned of their ways early last Spring. A grand multitude lodged in the tall branches of our neighbor’s trees. Loud, throaty screeches filled the air for weeks. Cackling to each other. Often crying out in unison for impact. All day long. Chasing every other bird away. Stealing eggs from nests. Lobbying to win the #1 garden bully award. My peaceful oasis totally sabotaged! 

Common Grackles are blackbirds that look like they’ve been slightly stretched. They’re taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered  bill and glossy-iridescent bodies.” (Don’t let that beauty fool you!) 

“Grackles walk around lawns and fields on their long legs or gather in noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens. They eat many crops . . .and nearly anything else  as well, including garbage.” (Add bird eggs to that list!) 

“The typical song, made by both males and females, is a guttural squeak, accompanied by high pitched, clear whistles. It lasts less than a second and is often described as sounding like a rusty gate.” (Annoying is too kind a word!) 

After a few weeks of growing irritation and frustration, I called a local bird expert. “What can we do????!!” “Well … you can get your shotgun and scare them away or purchase a special sound machine that chases away all wildlife”. Clearly, we took a pass on both options! By mid-May, the flock of grackles flew away, and life as we love it returned. 

This round, I purposed to not let their presence steal my joy. Grabbing hold of lessons learned the first time. Remembering that the robins and other birds eventually returned, built nests, had babies and sang their songs. My flowers produced a bounty for my arrangements. Mornings on the porch swing filled my tank. Even with the grackle cackling, Spring wonder still arrived. And after some weeks, they left us alone.  

Somehow, their annoying voice consumed me last year. Walking outside, that’s all I  could hear. My irritated spirit caused my vision to fog and I missed some of the wonder unfolding right in front of me. My anger simmered at them as my enemy. I complained … a lot. I’m a bit ashamed at allowing such an insignificant voice to take center stage. So much wasted energy and focus. Wondering what I missed by having my “listening” tuned to a single channel. 

So very much like our own lives. Voices of so many varied tones, scales, force, and decibels fill our days on a moment-by-moment basis. Tempting us to focus on them alone. Causing distraction. Sucking energy away from what matters. Blurring our view and disrupting our listening ears. All the while, He’s whispering, “Listen to My voice”. 

Dialing our listening channel to Him, brings settling and peace in the midst of all the voices clamoring for our attention. Intentional choosing and energy required on our part to stay on that channel and keep it clear. Knowing if we hear His voice first, we can navigate our days (and all the other voices) with grace and peace. 

His voice reminds us that … 

  • We are known by Him – fully and completely. He knows our frame, our desires, our needs, frustrations, and hopes. 

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

  • He is our protector and guide. 

“If my people would only listen to me

 if Israel would only follow my ways, 

how quickly I would subdue their enemies 

 and turn my hand against their foes!” Psalm 81:13-14 

  • He brings us peace. 

“. . .but whoever listens to me will live in safety 

 and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Proverbs 1:33 

Lord, give us wisdom to pass by voices that are not Yours. . . to tune them out of range … to keep our ears and hearts fully ready to hear Your voice alone … remembering that Your voice is what we most need every moment of every day.

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