For Christmas I received a beautiful little book from a friend called Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide. I had not heard of this book and was excited to find another book that focuses on spiritual lessons that can be learned from birds. Last night I picked the book up and started reading it. I read the back cover first and was a bit surprised to discover that the author is “a third-degree Wiccan High Priestess in the Black Forest Clan.” When I saw that my first response was “I bet my friend (one of my church members) didn’t realize that when she purchased this book for me.” My second thought was “what in the world am I going to do with this book?” I thought momentarily that this book might best be placed on a shelf and forgotten. Then I decided to at least give it a chance and started reading it. What I soon discovered is that although there are parts of the book that are strange and unappealing to me, other parts are filled with good information and insight. I was once again reminded of one of the maxims I try to live my life by, “gold is gold wherever you find it.”
One nugget of gold I discovered was something the author wrote about chickadees. I learned that “the chickadee’s brain allows neurons and the associated old information to die each fall, in order to free up space to absorb new information and adapt anew to its environment.” This made me think of my constant need to clear space on the hard drive of my computer so that I can store more images. The author of the book, however, spoke of a different analogy. She raised the questions, “Are you holding on to old patterns, habits, opinions, and beliefs? Is it time to shed them so that you can reexamine current information and situations, and form new opinions and plans? ” These are questions that definitely deserve our consideration, especially as we come to the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Earlier today I came across an article on the internet that listed seven habits practiced by unhappy people. I was embarrassed to see how many of them I am guilty of. I found myself thinking that perhaps I needed to emulate the chickadee and let certain patterns of thinking die. In Romans 12:2 Paul says, “do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Paul recognized that from time to time our minds need to be transformed. I suspect this includes, among other things, freeing up space in our minds by getting rid of those thoughts and thought patterns that are detrimental to us. It also includes letting God’s Spirit direct our thinking in more positive directions.
As we close out 2015 do you, like me, find yourself in need of freeing up some space in your thinking? Like the lovely chickadee, we too have the ability to do precisely that. It would do us all a world of good if we would pray these words found at the end of Psalm 139, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” If we actually let God lead us (and our thinking) we have much to look forward to in the coming year.
(I took the images of chickadees shown above when I lived in Pikeville, KY.)