The morning dawned bright and beautiful as I walked along the familiar path. I relished the warmer weather, the sound of birds and the beautiful flowers, bushes and trees. The long-awaited change! Suddenly I noticed a jogger coming toward me on the opposite side of the path. She soon switched to the side of the path I was walking moving away from a certain set of bushes. As she approached me, she patted her head. I then knew what was going on. Oh, yes, I said, the “attack birds”. They got my head yesterday she said as she jogged past. I smiled remembering a time they attached me too–two summers ago in this same spot. I smiled because I find their behavior fascinating.
Someone told me they attack people because they have “babies” nearby although I have never seen them. So one day two summers ago as I walked and they hovered overhead ready to attack, I said out loud ” I am not going to hurt your babies!” They are fierce though. Where did they learn this behavior? Their nests are not in sight. No one is going to hurt their babies. Or has someone in the past hurt their babies and that is why they attack innocent people?
These birds are annoying, yet they bear resemblance to us as humans at times. Situations happened in our lives that are not taking place in the present, yet the hurt persists and we hurt others. It takes awareness, time, work and the care of others to surface pain and hurt so that we don’t hurt others.
In Luke’s Gospel from the Christian scriptures (Luke 7:36-8:3) we hear a story of hurt. Jesus receives a dinner invitation. There is a woman there who has done things that are known publicly that are not favorable for her reputation. She approaches Jesus and washes his feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. She puts oil on his feet. Jesus’s “friends” criticize him for letting her touch him. She is sorry for what she has done and is showing great love, Jesus said. She is in touch with life’s fragility, Jesus seems to say. She is aware and changing. Why do you criticize her? She embraces her gentle side, now go and do the same.
Perhaps an attack bird’s ability does not allow it be in touch with its life history. At a certain time of the year these birds will attack innocent people who come along. Human ability is different, however. People can embrace their gentle side rather than attacking others because of their past hurts. Awareness, time, care and understanding are key.
Just as Jesus journeyed with the woman and affirmed her gentle side, may we be companions on the journey for one another when the pains of life cause us to hurt others rather than wash their feet with tears of change.
Our invitation is to embrace the gentle side.
Blessings and peace.