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Bird calls

May 27, 2015


When I was young, my mother gave me a Audubon bird caller. You can still get them at Amazon.  It opens up the world of talking to the birds.  I am not sure what I am saying to the birds but it sure is fun.   We had records (yes vinyl ones) that had the bird calls on them.  We went to cassette tapes and then DVD’s.  We learned the calls of the birds.  Our family has loved the bird calls.  There are those in our family who have the clocks that a bird call comes with each passing hour.

Where we live now the birds are talking all the time.  We have seen 26 different species at our bird feeders.  It is such a wonderful sound.  It is like music to my ears. I am sitting with the window open as I write and listening to a multitude of bird calls and insect sounds.   However, last weekend when I was at my mom’s house, I heard this awful sounding cardinal.  It could be hear even in the house with the door shut.

I went out to see what was going on and photographed the bird.  When I came in my mother said “I am so annoyed by that awful sounding cardinal! He won’t shut up!”  The bird “screams” all day long.  You can hardly hear any of the other birds.  I was reminded of the phrase “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  I have no idea what this bird is trying to accomplish.  I know people that are hard of hearing often talk louder than they realize.  I know one friend’s baby screamed all the time.  They took her to the doctor and found she was partially deaf and she was just trying to hear her own voice.  I don’t know if this cardinal is deaf.  It sits prominently on the wire as high as he can go and just lets loose all day long.

Psalm 100 from the Voice says:  “Raise your voices; make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth.”  We are to may a “joyful noise” to the Lord.  When I was teaching music, I had a poster that said “If only the best birds sang in the forest, it would be silent.”  I tried to get people to use their voice and learn to sing in harmony.  I encouraged each child, youth and adult that I worked to know that their voice mattered.  They were needed in the harmony singing of the whole group.  Yes, there are some voices that stick out and yes some don’t blend well with others.  The task is not to kick those voice out but to work with the individual so they can sing alone and in a group.  My goals were that they would not feel guilty about spoiling the concert.  They wouldn’t feel left out or ashamed of their voice.  They would instead have that wonderful sense of being lifted up to a new experience that leaves tingles all over one’s soul.

In 1761 John Wesley made a list of rules for singing in worship.  A short synopses is:

1. Sing all.
2. Sing lustily, and with a good courage.
3. Sing modestly.
4. Sing in time.
5. Above all, sing spiritually.

These I put in full:

3. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, as to be heard above, or distinct from, the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

4. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before, not stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

John Wesley’s rules are still in the front of the United Methodist Hymnal.  They are also good rules for life.  We all have different voices but they all can sing together – that is if the individual’s see the goal of being together as one they share.  There are those that want to stick out.  They don’t want to be with other and they want to be the center of attention.  In life we meet people like this cardinal that is loud, the center of attention and drowns out all the other people around them.

When I was teaching, we were instructed that if we had discipline problems to look in the mirror first.  What were we doing to bring about this problem?  Only then did you look at the kids.  When I heard the cardinal, the first thing was to check it out.  The second was to get my camera.  The third was to pause say ask myself “Where in my life am I like the cardinal?  Does my voice need to be loud or do I need to change how I am coming across?”  What about you?  Are you a voice in the harmony with the cacophony of others or do you stick out?  Sometime we need to be loud and be a voice that is heard.  If we don’t raise our voices, important messages will be lost.   Sometimes we need to be a voice in harmony so that others can join in the song.  We need to include others to have their voice be part of a larger group.

Listen to the birds today.  What do you hear?  How is your life like or not like the cardinal?

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