A Willingness to Regroup
By Nita Gilger
A loud knocking sound echoed all around me as my first walk of the morning began. It certainly sounded like a giant woodpecker. Yet, the familiar pounding was more pronounced than other woodpeckers I had seen and heard over the years. The cedar posts on our front porch have been an allure for these fine feathered friends as well as our live oak trees. But this persistent knocking was different, louder, and denser than the local woodpeckers' normal smorgasbord sounds. Finally, after searching high and low for what I thought would be a gigantic woodpecker, I spied what turned out to be a very diminutive, juvenile male woodpecker at the very top of a large power pole. These poles are covered in creosote and are as hard as a rock. My first thought was that there are hundreds of trees all around that would be easy pickins' for this industrious little friend, but this guy was choosing the hard way. He was pounding and pounding and pounding to no avail. I'm thinking a massive headache has to be in this guy's near future.
My guess is that this bird was not really analyzing life or thinking of Biblical wisdom or quoting Aristotle or Rumi. For some reason though, he was doing his business in a non-productive, self-defeating way. It did not take all the long before he moved on to a more manageable wood choice for his morning foray. There was no ostensible shaming going on. Maybe this little fellow was moving along with pure instinct or perhaps he has some special woodpecker wisdom that helped him to rethink the moment. His self-esteem seemed to remain intact. He found a different way.
I am going with the woodpecker wisdom thought as I let the life lessons sink in. How many times do I knock my head against the wall trying the same thing over and over hoping for different results? More times than I enjoy, for sure. And, there are certainly times I jump right into something without making sure it is the very best choice for me--i.e., choosing the wrong tree/pole. I can make life way more difficult than it has to be. Impulse and quick decisions are not always a helpful pathway. It is important to not give up too soon but when something is clearly not working, perhaps I need to rethink, wait, or just move on. Life is full of choices and we are given brains and creative souls just a little larger than my bird friend that help us find a way forward. Even so, I can make unhelpful choices and ones that set me back. Regrouping is necessary and sometimes healing is needed too. In moments of grief or feelings of defeat and disappointment it is helpful to seek Divine connection in the rethinking and repairing. It is important to feel what I need to feel, all the while trusting that I am not alone in my searching. My understanding of God is that God is love. For me, God is a compassionate, creative companion and guide—Present in all times.
The well-loved and oft quoted Psalm 23 says it all so well. Lead me beside still waters......Your rod and your staff comfort me.
Even when I feel alone, I am not alone. Even when I make unwise decisions or become discouraged or bereft, I am not alone. And I absolutely love the words of Frederick Buechner, that joy and pain come from the same place within us, and that when we experience either in the extreme, we are that much closer to God.
Prayer: Thank you God for all creatures great and small. I am ever so grateful for the way nature teaches me every day in joyful moments and in trying ones. Give me eyes that see and wisdom to make choices of Spirit that are full of healing, love, and hope. Amen.