Counting Birds

Tom, this man who persevered
for three days to rig and hang a
bird feeder on the proper branch

let me know that this past weekend
was the exciting Audubon
Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count!

Now, I really can’t identify
a nuthatch from a gnatcatcher
but could at least keep a tally.

A notepad wasn’t needed, for
the first twenty minutes there
were only empty nests in view

yet I really was trying my
best to see the possibilities
of spring to come and was pleased

to see buds still hanging on to
the magnolia tree we’ve been reporting
on for at least two weeks now.

Those eight inches of snow made
it even more thrilling to hear the
familiar whistle that you would

recognize too, especially as
the whistler restated his
intentions with sheer boldness.

Cupped hand shielding eyes from the
midday sun, the brilliant red of one
cardinal reveals in the leafless tree.

I am happy enough with
my official bird tally last Sunday
on a February afternoon

ONE bird’s whistles fill my soul with
hope for mysteries unfolding
in loving Creator’s holy time.

Psalm 103:15-18 (CEB)

The days of a human life are like grass:
they bloom like a wildflower;
but when the wind blows through it, it’s gone;
even the ground where it stood doesn’t remember it.
But the Lord’s faithful love is from forever ago to forever from now
for those who honor him.
And God’s righteousness reaches to the grandchildren
of those who keep his covenant
and remember to keep his commands.


Each Lenten season I pray about what I might commit to a spiritual practice. There were years that involved fasting from food, but these days my body does not that tolerate that so well. Every year I ponder what would help me be a more positive and faithful Christian. This year my goal is to fast from negativity, gossiping, and hanging on to annoyances. Each time I am less than positive, UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) will benefit as a quarter will be plunked in a jar. Now that I’ve publicly announced this, hopefully people won’t taunt me in order to increase the missions offering. 🙂

Walking affects our well-being. In solitude we might recognize what draws us away from God. Only then will healing through repentance lead to transformation.

We need not fear our time in prayer, for God judges us with kindness. Spirit immerses us with love!

Once again, listen to the Psalmist chant the lovely words and repeat them to yourselves:
God’s faithful love is forever ago and forever from now.

May our faithfulness, honor, and respect for God encompass those we love, and even more so those we don’t yet understand.

We pray for you to receive and give through the abundant life of Jesus Christ,

Rev. Marta Wheeler

To view or download a PDF version of this devotional, click here:  Devotional MW 2023-02-22