I didn’t expect to get a life lesson from a woodpecker this morning.
Most mornings after waking up and assembling some caffeine, I head out to the patio and sink into my red-cushioned wide chair to journal. On this very special morning, Paul the Woodpecker brought me a lesson.
I have journaled for as long as I can remember – some of my junior high diaries are stored on the shelves to my right as I type this! These days, instead of chronicling what we’re doing in basketball or what boy is “cute,” I start by observing my surroundings. I rarely have contacts in yet and often forget to take my glasses along, so the world swirls around in a sunny haze.
Sound, touch, and smell are in sharper relief than sight.
Yesterday, I heard a bird sound I’d never heard from our patio and so I looked up. I caught a little dot of red on the third palm tree. That’s all my weak eyes could make out, but something within me connected the dots and whispered, “Woodpecker.”
Well, fun, I thought. That’s a new one amidst all the crows and hawks that love to play in the thermal vents created by our twenty-story condo tower! Wondering why I thought it was a woodpecker of all things (I’m not exactly an ornithologist) I went back to journaling and my day.
This morning I sat down upon the red cushions again with caffeine and journal in hand, hoping a life lesson would reveal itself. Or at least a little wisdom to hold.
I immediately began writing a lecture to myself because I’m frustrated right now. The elements are coming together for a project of mine to go and all I want to do is get everyone in a room, shine a giant light on how all this works out so well if we just do these steps together, and get to work on it. But I’ve been forcing myself to not push. To not revert to my old self of always pushing, always making things happen, not listening to or caring more for the people involved than the purpose I’ve seen.
After a few paragraphs wherein I told myself to just trust, “…that what shall be, shall be…” and trying to make that feel right, I realized I had skipped the crucial journaling first step: settle and observe.
So, I stopped.
Just like tuning a radio dial, the familiar sounds of my little frequency on earth came into sharp focus. Wind rushing through palm fronds. Warm air wrapping its way around me before journeying along to places I can’t see. Hazy sunlight bouncing upon the fat hedgerow leaves nearby. Little sparkles dancing on the patio screen – reflections of sunshine caught in the tiny droplets of water left by sprinklers.
Everything I observed, I knew to belong to my station. And so I began writing again. At this point, it’ll be easier to show you what I wrote…
As with all other mornings, the sun came up today. I’m sitting in its warmth and can hear the song of a bird nearby, trilling through the wind that whispers through the palm fronds. Something is making short bursts of drilling sound – maybe a woodpecker? Now there’s an animal that has to push for what it needs! Hmm. Maybe pushing has its time and place. Maybe my lesson here is that, in my “before” life, I was always and in all ways pushing – but even the woodpecker just pushes in short bursts. He also spends a lot of time flying and sitting still, listening for the movement of the food he’s after and then pushing to get at it.
If I adopt a woodpecker approach, then I will continue to scan my environment for opportunities, pause where I spot one, listen, and if I hear that what I need is present, go to it and push to access it. But I only need to push in a short burst, not a lifetime of pushing without end. (For the woodpecker, that would probably drive all the bugs out of the tree anyway?!)
As I journaled, Secondborn came out to enjoy the morning as well. She began chattering away about her social studies assignment and how her daddy said it wasn’t quite right and she needed me to look at it. Charlie came out with our breakfast plates and began explaining his position on the social studies assignment. With an inward sigh, I set the journal aside and engaged in the conversation – thinking my journaling time was over but that could be okay because I’d learned that it’s sometimes okay to push. It didn’t feel like a really big life lesson, but it was something.
Once Secondborn finished, she went inside to retrieve her social studies assignment.
And then I wrote…
While I was writing, Charlie came out with a plate of breakfast – eggs, bacon & hash browns (I’m so spoiled). I asked him if it was a woodpecker I was hearing. He said, “Yes, and it’s drilling on metal. That’s why it’s so loud.”
I noticed this woodpecker for the first time yesterday on the third palm tree. I wasn’t sure if he was a woodpecker, but something in me instantly thought he was even though I couldn’t see him clearly. And then, today, when I heard that sound, I thought it must be a woodpecker – and maybe that it was the same one I saw yesterday since I’ve never seen any here before. It is my good fortune that today he chose to hammer on metal first as that allowed me to hear him, to be clear about the type of bird he is and that he is present.
That feels like an affirmation of the Freevangelic blog – my drilling on metal, so to speak. It may not get me food right now (drilling on metal may not get the bird immediate food), but it does announce what kind of human I am and that I’m present. Just like the woodpecker was a lesson for me today that it’s okay to push/drill in short bursts for a specific target, so too might the Freevangelic blog show people insight or ideas toward being. I think I’ll write a post about that…
And so I have. Life lesson uncovered!
Since writing this post this morning, I’ve researched woodpeckers in Southwest Florida and learned that when they do those short bursts of drilling, they’re calling out for a mate and letting other birds know this is their territory.
How Freevangelic is that?! “Let me make sounds so that you know I’m here in this space, what kind of being I am, and that I want company.”
My next posts will be releasing some more daily writings from my Questioning Faith journal – my drillings, if you will. Maybe they draw your attention and help you find insights on your journey, too. That would be incredible!
Ella returned to the patio with her social studies assignment right about the time a bird with a red head flitted up to the third palm.
“Is that a woodpecker?” she asked.
“I can’t see him clearly, but I heard him and so I’m pretty sure he is, yes.”
She cocked her head, observing the bird. Neither of us could hear any drilling. “What’s his name?”
I thought on the bird for a second. “Feels like Paul.”
“Paul.” She looked for another few seconds. “Hello, Paul.” Without taking her eyes from the bird, she tilted her head toward me. “What is he thinking?”
I smiled. Tried to get an impression of anything wise to share with her, but before even a hint of thought could enter my mind, Paul flew away.
His life lesson for the day had already been taught.