The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Birds Star in the Winter Creation Garden

We know your evil dreams, cat.


The final roses were cut for the Sunday altar, and now they decorate Mrs. Wright's home (they live on our right). Mrs. Gardener may get another bunch, but that depends on the coming frost. In Arkansas we are singing "One Day More" from Les Miz.

The rose garden is where we toss the more appealing bird food. Sassy cannot stand seeing "her" food outside. Once she looked at me in shock when I tossed muffins out for the birds. She darted outside and brought one in.

The rose garden is also where cats stalk the birds, sitting under the limo or turning into a statue on the edge of the garden. "I am not here. You do not see me because I will not move until the right moment."



The backyard is fenced in, and cats have not tried to feed there. I set up four suet bags, two near our large window and two hanging from trees. Multiple feeders draw larger numbers of birds. So far, the ingrates have not shown up for suet - after I bought it for them at the meat market, ordered suet bags for them, had them intercepted by Mrs. I, bought another set, hung them for their sole benefit.

The other favorite food I bought was a 25 pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds. I scatter the seeds on the mulch in the future corn patch and vegetable garden. Birds will always be wary of a new place to feed, and they prefer their food to ours. But the birds have landed there regularly now, and we see large groups of them.

Moline is already so cold that our friend has set up her birdbath warmer, which attracts many birds looking for a place to drink and bathe. Their greatest need is to bathe and preen their feathers, so a warmed birdbath is a powerful magnet to birds.

Some are thinking, "I am not going to double my electric bill with a bird spa." The heater keeps the water just above freezing and shuts off when the bath runs dry - as it will. The colder the weather, the faster it gets splashed out. The cost is low, the return is great.


Birds love trees, bushes, and low-lying vegetation for the their winter feeding. They find a lot of insect life in bark and bushes, because God has designed insects to expose their prolific offspring above ground, hidden away but easily found by birds. The upside-down bird (nuthatch) is purpose-driven and built to look under bark for food. They also love suet.

If I manufactured a spray that never ran out, killed insects, and reduced weeds, everyone would make me a billionaire, yes? The starling does that for us - but are we thankful to God and the person who brought them to America? Starlings arrive in flocks and grub for insects in the soil, flip mulch for life hidden but moving, and eat weed seeds in abundance. Starlings have turned into enormous flocks that soar and glide in majestic mathematical patterns.


Starlings are piggish but they only want to be fruitful and multiply. If the Creation gardener provides many kinds of food, shelter, and perches, the other birds will also visit.

When a vast storm threatens an area, people rush to stores to empty them of bread, cereal, flashlights, batteries, and water. Last winter I finally ventured out after an ice storm to get groceries. I was there late, and the clerks told me how my fellow human-beings mobbed the store for food. The larger the storm, the emptier the shelves are.

Speaking of mobs, I found an article about crows using facial recognition software to identify human threats, remembering the faces and calling in pals to mob the threat.



Crows remember the faces of threatening humans and often react by scolding and bringing in others to mob the perceived miscreant, according to a new study published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Since the mob members also then indirectly learn about the threatening person, the findings demonstrate how just a single crow's bad experience with a particular human can spread information about this individual throughout entire crow communities.

The corvids (crows, ravens, starlings, blackbirds) are the smartest birds and the best staying alive in difficult circumstances, so we take them for granted and curse their abundance.

Grace Abundant in the Means of Grace
God gave us the Means of Grace--the invisible Word of preaching and teaching, the visible Word of the Sacraments--to His Creation, for one purpose. No one ever needs to wonder and speculate about how he is declared forgiven, given God's grace, and granted eternal salvation. Faith in Christ means receiving this grace, through these divine instruments.

Likewise, we have no reason to look for the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit is always active in the visible and invisible Word.

The great, wise, and holy men of God dismiss the Means of Grace. Why so many means? That abundance scandalizes them, but they never ask "Why so many once-in-a-lifetime giving campaigns?"

The intellectuals question infant baptism, either calling it a terrible Roman Catholic dogma or an ordinance easily ignored.

The media stars reject the Means of Grace because they advocate themselves as the path to enlightenment, prosperity, and dreams fulfilled, using themselves as examples. Their approach is also called The Greater Fool theory, since a charlatan will attract greater foods who choose to believe the fraud until they run out of fools to join them. Ask Bernie Madoff, Robert Schuller, and Mark Driscoll. Their glittering careers end in lawsuits. Ask Ski for tips on that.

Fragile birds run from hawks. The clever blue jays know this and make hawk sounds to drive birds away from feeders. Crows do not fear hawks or owls. They mob them and drive them away from their nests.

But humans invite wolves into their lives, families, and congregations, saying, "Look, he is another sheep, just like us. He is humble and only wants to help."

We have started something new.
We will make the Gospel real, relevant, and relational.