Happy birding, everyone!
Today I feel remarkably compelled to re-tell a much-told story. In fact, I have felt so compelled for a few weeks, but up until now, could not remember the motivation.
The story to be told, one often told, is that about the Widow’s Offering, in Luke 21:1-4 in the Holy Bible (New International Version). ”As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ’I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’ “
The motivation, readers, was a National Geographic article about the Kyrgyz people in the forbidding Afghanistan territory called the “Wakhan Corridor”.The reason the Kyrgyz people reminded me of that passage should be clear to those of you who are familiar with the region. See the article here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/wakhan-corridor/finkel-text
It is a land where mortality rate is stiff and fortune seems rare. But these people, in a seemingly hopeless land, find reasons to hope and reasons to lead with a commitment rivaled by few, and though not a boisterous people, their famous “yurts” constructed out of dull sticks and felt feature, on the inside, a rich variety of ornate quilts. A people led by a fellow called the “Khan”, they number barely over one thousand. Their life is a continuous giving of all they have for each other.
Nature hands us other examples: consider this narrator (William Martha) describing the song of the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (follow the link to hear). He describes the “outpouring of song” which is remarkable for such a little bird (3.5 inches-4.5 inches). Consider also the familiar Cardinal, piping songs that can be heard for at least a quarter mile, though the bird itself is only seven inches or so long.
And at the gym, I found yet another example: a blind woman venturing out several times a week to swim, then waiting for her ride outside in the cold. Still reaching for full living and connection. It makes me also remember another kind person, also blind, named Ernie, who spent the ten or so years she knew us doting like the grandmothers we never knew. She also taught us how to write braille, from which action grew a very rewarding set of correspondences, full of love and encouragement in subjects ranging from relationships to learning guitar. In myself, I find that my innate human drives compel me to often step out of my bounds, giving all of my social anxieties away (I am autistic). We are meant to go through life together.
Please consider stepping out with me this year to give all that you have. It is something we can do for the Lord Jesus, who gave us all he had, up to and beyond his life. Stay strong and do your best–Love, Benjamin
After a wonderful year of bird-watching, I want to share some of those sights that hit me right in the heart (or the funny-bone) when I saw them:
1) Downy Woodpecker’s back–I never noticed until now how peculiarly precise is the cross marking on his head.
2) A tolerant hawk — this Red-tailed Hawk young watched and watched me, until he finally grew weary of my fawning attention.
3) A gray-feathered cardinal scratching its back
4) A bold nuthatch asserting itself, even against bluebirds:
5) The “dunce-cap” look of a nuthatch who peers horizontally from his tree descent.
6) A grand bird scrounging in the grubby dirt; yum!
7) Yellow-rumped warbler visiting our bird bath.
8) Finding two sapsuckers when you thought you were taking a photo of only one.
9) and finally, friends who will make very special things for you (this was made for my sister on her wedding day):
my heart is yours.
Hello, reader. This is Benjamin. I have three things on my mind today: things that stick with you, the degradation of communication, and nature.
Now, think about some of the things that stick with you–the things you can remember, no matter what. Maybe it’s a story, a tip of the trade, advice from a grandmother, or a certain song. Now, a question I pose to myself: why don’t people “stick with me” in the same way?
One thing that has stuck with me is carpentry tips. My dad must’ve told me hundreds, but a couple of the examples I can pull up now are: 1) to spit on a screw or nail before going into really hard wood and 2) while drilling a hole, pull out the drill a few times to clear the bit (it cuts better that way).
I also have pulled quite a bit of strength from things my mother has said about being yourself. So I use this to remind myself it’s OK not to have the exact same conception as the rest of the “normal” world of serving, etc. (I’m not the best “people” person in the world). A book called “Living Well on the Spectrum” by Valerie Gaus–which my parents got me–helps me deal with life issues related to my autism. Autism is a neurological disorder which encompasses a “spectrum” of mind differences, which cause many problems in daily life. It discusses brain differences that simply “are” in autistic people (when we accept that our brains work differently, we are more effective). Then, it implements a combination observational/problem-solving method. You find out what works.
My sister made me a cup necklace out of sculpy clay to remind me to drink water throughout the day. Her act of kindness sticks with me.
Here are a couple of more things that stick with me: a sky of billow altocumulus and bobwhite quail venturing ever closer to my parents’ house.
But why not people (in their entirety)? I find it difficult to remember little details like my Mom liking open skies and my dad liking forests. I find it difficult to remember many things like that, and how they link together to form a person. It has some to do with my autism–a “person” is a very abstract concept to my mind, and it is much easier for me to just remember Mommy as any one of her small details than to incorporate everything at once.
It upsets me–but if I try my best (and God knows if I am), God knows I am sincere. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I am going to try a solution of once a week, writing down new details I’ve learned about people. I carry around a pocket-notebook to write down these things as I observe them.
God (as I have come to understand him): the imprinted image on all humanity and creation of what we are made to do and to be: Can I love him with all of my body (take care of yourself), mind (be responsible and content as you can be), heart (have reasons for doing what you are doing), and soul (don’t be afraid to express yourself in whatever way makes you content and doesn’t harm anyone)?
Now, on the degradation of journaling: in a world with computers, we have become very careless on what words we throw out to other people. We have the same attentive, sensitive audience as letters, speeches, and such, but not the same pause for thought.
An official in Asheville was put on leave for a needlessly harsh, violent Facebook comment about Occupy Asheville protesters. Celebrities around the world have to make public apologies for twitter.com Tweets and other such quick-publish media.
Once upon a time, we had to write down our words carefully. When the post office took over, we couldn’t change our words…
One of my goals is to make the special people in my life “stick with me” better. I think it will help my words be better, too.
Hello, anybody reading. I have a rather large collection of photos which I am seeking to share in some form. I want to share it because birds make me feel loved in a very unusual way–a way that, as my mother puts it–is un-fraught. Perhaps you will start to notice the same thing. I hope so.
This one is called “Bluebirds at Home”. I have immensely enjoyed watching the bluebirds who have lived in the closest bluebird house during past years. This photo is one that is a product of a strange new habit I picked up. My Canon A-550 does not have the best zoom. I tried taking photos with the lens against the binocular eyepiece. The trouble is, it only works on sunny days. Even then, my hand began to tremble, producing a blur.
Thanks today to my friend Michael, who called recently and listened without judgment to all that I had to say. Thanks to my parents, too, who do this daily.
My mom has patience with my lack of understanding as regards forgiveness and love. I keep thinking that it is a feeling which can be established and then the anger is forgotten–but it is remembering, even through residual anger and frustration, the good things.
Thanks to my father for doing tai-chi again with me yesterday. He gives me the prime spot in front of the TV since I am new. We are working on the five essential principles:
1. Total relaxation, 2. Separation of yin and yang (opposites), 3. Turning the waist, 4. Keeping the back straight, 5. Beautiful lady’s wrists (smooth, gentle posture in the arms)
While we do that, I forget for a little while that I wasted energy in a needless struggle to gain his positive regard (I already had it–it was not exactly what I needed at the time, but I had it). We can share chuckles at the misspoken words of the video instructor; talk about how good it feels afterward. He shares with me a story of a small, short participant in tai-chi gently deflecting a charging football player.
He recounts a story of solving a new problem at work. I admire his unrelenting positivity as regards the work, even when it involves pretty hairy, nasty leaks.
I love him. I will learn to show it.