Ed, my neighbour next door, believes gardening is for the birds. I told him it really is, in my yard. First, the birds sampled my strawberries to the count of about every other strawberry. They seemed determined to taste test every second berry. Usually the netting I cover the plants with keeps the birds away, but this year so many birds got caught in it that I had to remove it before one of them got seriously hurt. My strawberry patch quickly became an all-day buffet for every fine feathered friend in town.
Now as my cherries turn red and my raspberries begin to ripen, the birds are finishing tramping down the strawberries and taking bets on which one among them will eat the most cherries and raspberries.
Ed says that the birds are doing me a favour, as crawling around picking strawberries is no legitimate activity for any man. I told Ed that it takes a real man to pick my gooseberries and challenged him to pick them for me for $5. Never one to shun money, Ed came into my yard like David ready to slay Goliath.
My two bushes are not big and the red ripe gooseberries were obvious. Ed was sure he’d have them picked in two minutes. After 30 seconds and thorn scratches drawing blood, Ed claimed I should have warned him he would be dealing with thorns sharper than barbed wire. At the two-minute mark, Ed said he could hear Ruby calling him and he had to abandon the gooseberry picking. All my insistence that he couldn’t hear Ruby calling because she was at work had no effect on Ed, who said he had to stop the bleeding anyway.
Sometimes life seems like it is for the birds. Some of our efforts seem to be wasted or in vain. Growing strawberries seems to be objectionable, unproductive and useless if the birds eat or destroy most of the strawberries.
The book of Ecclesiastes records that everything is meaningless and futile, like chasing after the wind. The book says life is for the birds in these ways, “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand. No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death. Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies so does the other. Anyone who is among the living has hope – even a live dog is better than a dead lion.”
I think most of us would agree that to be among the living gives us hope. Sometimes life has to be strictly for the birds. Perhaps even a birdbrain knows that life comes with both productive and wasted moments. We cannot always control ourselves or the birds in our garden.
The writer of Ecclesiastes describes life as meaningless, but says it is summed up in the bird’s eye view, “Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” The book of Romans confirms that, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Our loving keeps God’s commandments. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He said this so we could find our way of meaning in this life, as His birds of a feather, loving one another.