Last week, after extensive thought and aviary education, Tracy decided to purchase a bird feeder to add to the east side of the yard.  He selected a “squirrel-proof” feeder to insure the food was preserved for its intended beneficiaries.  He carefully chose a spot where the residents could enjoy bird watching from the Community Room or from the deck.  He filled the feeder with sunflower seeds, which he learned were very popular with all kinds of birds, and carefully placed the feeder on a shepherd’s hook near the gingko tree.

Sadly, the birds did not seem to be nearly as excited as Tracy was about the new feeder.  Each day at lunch, Tracy reported no visitors had come to the feeder; no birds, and not even the squirrels.

Saturday morning Tracy noticed something on the feeder, but it definitely was not a bird or a squirrel.  One of our concerned staff members had added a sign to the base of the shepherd’s hook that read, “FREE Bird Food (Birds Only)”, with a couple of feathers attached for good measure, in case visual aids were necessary.  While Tracy and Marge enjoyed the laugh prompted by the sign, it seemed to have no impact on the birds.  We were forced to conclude the birds could not read English.

At lunch Monday, the bird feeder was again a topic for discussion.  Was it the type of seed in the feeder?  Was it the location?  Was it the wrong time of year to try to entice birds to visit?   There were plenty of opinions, but no real answers.  But it did prompt JustBob to take action with some experiments to see if he could find the answers.

JustBob added a second shepherd’s hook on the other side of the gingko tree, this time a double hook.  To that he added a suet block and a homemade birdfeeder filled with a feed mix that included corn kernels.  He repurposed a broken floor lamp as a bowl-style feeder and filled it with the same mix.  Later, he added a corn cob suspended by a large spring from a board attached to the top of the gingko tree cage.  Surely, this critter buffet would attract someone!  If not, it would affirm the location needed to change.

Wednesday morning, Tracy had his first bird sighting.  First one crow, then a second, came to the area around the feeder buffet.   Later in the day, a blue jay came to check it out as well.  But it seemed odd that they were not on any of the feeders.  They walked around the area, pecked at the ground, looked up and pondered all the yard ornaments, and then returned to pecking at the ground.  Later, when Marge ventured out, it became clear why the birds had no need to exert themselves to be fed.  Some helpful critter, despite Tracy’s watchful eyes, had emptied about half the seed in the lamp and at least two-thirds of the seed from the homemade feeder onto the ground!

It seems to me there is a lesson we can learn from this experience.  Like Tracy and JustBob, God sets a buffet of blessings out for us every day to enjoy.  And just like our mystery sign maker, God gives us signs that point us to these blessings and invites us to enjoy them.  But just like the birds, many of us never notice the blessings because they are in the wrong place, or we ignore them because we think they are the wrong kind, or we don’t bother because they just require too much effort.  Sometimes it takes a helpful critter to scatter the blessings right in our path where we cannot miss them and do not have to work for them before we begin to notice and enjoy them.

For the buffet of blessings God provides every day, and for the awareness to notice and enjoy them, we say Deo Gratias!