Have you ever sat and listened to the birds? I mean, really listened, not just, “woah, listen to those birds.” This afternoon I sat and listened. That’s not like me. Or, at least, it’s not like the me I used to be.
I used to make fun of bird nerds. Okay, honestly, I still think bird nerds are pretty funny. I’m talking about the people who head out into the woods with binoculars around their necks, wearing special birding clothes and carrying bird guide books in their pockets. They subscribe to text message “bird alerts” like I subscribe to baseball scores. “Look Helen! It’s a Fork-tailed Flycatcher!” Bird nerds are peculiar people.
I’m not a bird nerd but today I sat in the adirondack chairs on my front lawn trying to write while tilting my laptop trying to see through the glare. Finally I gave up and set my computer aside waiting for the next cloud bank. It was then that I noticed how noisy my neighborhood is. We’ve got some loud and animated birds around here.
I heard this bird talking back and forth from one corner to the other. One would call and then a few seconds later the answer would come. It went on back and forth. Added to it was this call and this call. It was downright loud but sort of like a jazz symphony with the familiar chickadee added to the bright yellow finches that come to our tree in groups.
I know, most of you reading this didn’t click the links or maybe clicked one and said, “Got it. Bird.” I totally get that because that was me before my transplant. I know we’re supposed to stop and smell the roses but I hardly ever did. Hey, we’re all busy, right?
But I also know that some of you are probably “bird nerds” and recognized those calls immediately. Go, you!
But for me, it was the first time I sat and truly listened to the symphony. I started recognizing patterns in their music. I began picking out calls and listening for responses. I must have sat and listened for at least a half an hour. It feels weird even admitting that. Everything in the old me wants to scream, “what an incredibly boring waste of time!” But, the post-transplant me liked it a lot and is embarrased to admit I’ve gone through 50 years without truly appreciating God’s symphony.
My transplant friends tell me that what I am experiencing is common. I remember my pal Bill telling me I would smell smells I had never smelled and see things I never noticed before my transplant. I listened politely and said, “Uh huh.” I didn’t believe him. Bill went through his transplant a year before me and he kept me going and looking forward while I waited for mine.
While I sat listening on my lawn, my neighbor came out and sat in the chair next to me. She told me that her son had an apparent heart attack this morning and is in a hospital in Georgia. We talked about how tough it is for a mom to be so far away when her child is in crisis. She asked me if I could pray so I did, right there, while God’s symphony surrounded us.
The old me wouldn’t have been out there listening. I was always on the way to the next thing. The old me didn’t stop and smell the roses and wouldn’t have been there for my neighbor. The old me was so busy attending church “love your neighbor” talks and classes that I had little time left to love my neighbor.
Bill was right. I see things differently now. I hear things, notice things and appreciate the common beauties of life in a much different way. I very rarely rush now. But what I appreciate most? I think I see people differently now. Somehow I feel like I have more of a connection, more compassion and recognize the image of my Creator in them much better than I ever did before. I like that.
I remember singing Brandon Heath’s song Give Me Your Eyes as a prayer years before my transplant.
All those people goin’ somewhere
Why have I never cared?
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
It seems to me that my God is answering that prayer.
Life is a symphony. Slow down. Don’t miss it.
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” Matthew 6:6 – The Message