This morning on a brief walk with Scout, I thought I saw a couple of goldfinches. They were fast, but there were definitely little flashes of yellow in the trees. Then they were gone.
I love moments like this. I know that goldfinches are by no means rare, but I don't see them very often, and then, it seems like I can only get glimpses. In the same way, I like to catch sight of the one or two cardinals that inhabit our block. They are so deeply and irretrievably red.
Meanwhile, the sparrows are everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. Yesterday while I was out exploring a waterfall up here, I heard a loud peeping sound, very insistent and singular. I followed it, turned a corner -- and it was only a sparrow. I didn't even bother to get my camera out.
We have sparrows at home too -- more than enough this year. The sparrows have built two nests in the eaves of our front windows. Whenever I go out the front door, I hear a chorus of cheeps. They fly around our yard as if it belongs to them. More than once I have been sitting in a chair in the front room and heard a great thud on the window -- one of the sparrows missing the landing, I suppose. That nest should go on the History Channel's next series about the 10 Most Dangerous Landing Strips.
Even though we live in an urban area, my husband says we are a little too close to nature this year. It's mostly become of the sparrows, I suppose -- the sparrows that are raising their babies in front of us (although two of them, mysteriously, were found dead a little earlier this summer). It's because of the sparrows, and those robins that decided to build a nest on our back porch, and the unseen animal that has begun making little holes in our yard (we have not seen it, but hope it is not a gopher). It is because of the rabbits that eat the daisies, and the crow feather that I found one afternoon in the roses.
But mostly it's because of those sparrows. They are common as dirt. They are in the front yard, down the block, up on Lake Superior, everywhere you look. You could get two of them for a penny, that's what Jesus said.
If I had my choice, I would like to be a goldfinch, I think. Something special, for people to notice and look for. Sometimes, I think that I am. Other times I consider myself a sparrow, one of a long-line of ordinary people. There are so many of us. We are sturdy. We have crossed oceans with just a steamer trunk. We have raised children, planted and reaped crops, moved to the city, carried burdens, celebrated and wept. There are so many of us, leading ordinary lives. Or lives that seem ordinary, anyway.
While I am on the look-out for goldfinches, God's eye is on the sparrow. Two-for-a-penny sparrows. Not one of them falls to the earth without the heavenly Father, that's what Jesus says. It's hard to believe. So many of them fall to the earth, after all.
While I am on the look-out for goldfinches, God's eye is on the sparrow. They are bread and wine of creation: common as dirt. I can just hear God saying to me, "Go ahead and keep looking for goldfinches. I love those moments of glory, flashes of brilliance, too. But don't forget: my eye is on the sparrow, too. Every single day. Every single one of them."