This morning, as I was pulling the dry laundry off my clothing rack in my bay window, I noticed a Blue Jay perched on a deadened sunflower head outside. He was pecking the seeds out of the dried blossom head. Sparrows and finches swooped at the Blue Jay while he dined. He ignored their advancements and continued pecking. He stopped and stared straight ahead and looked at me. He held my gaze. And then he fluttered off. For a moment, I felt as if God was looking into my heart. I know that seems odd, but there is something rather mystical and magical about holding the gaze of a wild animal that gives me tingles inside. I often feel that way when I connect to someone or some creature in nature. I believe that when we connect to anyone or any creature, we are supposed to feel it, not just rationalize it and observe it for the surface feature that it unveils. I didn’t just see a bird, it looked at me. It realized I too, am a living creature foreign to its own kind— peculiar but beautiful in its difference.
It was a moment I lingered in and reflected on until reality crept in. I started to think about who I would share this story with.And, as I went through the possibilities of resharing the story, I couldn’t help but hear the questions that followed: “Did you take a video?” “You should have taken a picture of it.” “Why didn’t you record that for me?” “Did you put it on Instagram? I want to see.”
Which led me to consider how lonely it must be to have a true connection with someone or some creature and feel that it needs to be qualified beyond imagination for another to accept that it happened.
Can’t we have moments that we don’t share? Can’t we engage in something bigger than ourselves for just a short time that doesn’t require someone else to “like it” for us to see that experience as worthy? Are we so caught up in seeking out validation from others that we have forgotten that God has already validated us by our existence?
Technology has allowed us to connect in wonderous ways, but it has also led to an extreme disconnection from reality. It is indeed amazing that we can send photos and recordings of things taking place presently for others to see. But at the same time, it takes away from the privacy of a moment shared between others—take “revenge porn” or leaked photos as an example, or two.
Why can’t we be content with sharing an experience with another living being without it being proven to another through videography or photography or a status update? Why can’t we see that the connection we participate in is already qualified and quantified by God, who connects us to all, who is all in all?
That moment I shared with the bird filled me with abundant gratitude, if only for a moment. Do you know what happens when you feel overwhelmed with abundant gratitude? That energy creates a spotlight that lights up everything we see in the few moments following. It’s as if suddenly someone turned the lights on to show us that things aren’t as dark as we once perceived them to be.
And if we allow that abundance to continue to overwhelm us, if we don’t swish it away by distractions of delusion, we can remain in a euphoric high. Our spotlight will grow larger and all things set before our path will be set ablaze. The spotlight will illuminate all things, and suddenly, all the small things will add up to matter so much more than one big thing here or there that really doesn’t change much about who we are. It’s the little things that we are called to notice. Because small things matter. Small sparks can create such brilliant lights.
So, essentially, I want to challenge you to pay attention to the things that you don’t normally look at. Watch the tree sway in the wind. Watch the birds flap their wings. What the cows graze the fields and listen to the chickens as they cackle and bock. Stop and gaze out the window, you may end up catching the gaze of God.