Over the years of living on a small mountaintop in southern Oregon, I have learned many valuable lessons from observing the wildlife that shares the forest area in which my house sits sequestered. The truth is, along the spiritual path, nature is never not exhibiting — in real time — with real creatures — some of the most profound principles one can hope to learn. And key here is the idea that, regardless of the nature of the lesson in hand, or its method of delivery, one must observe in order to learn. This holds true when it comes to watching insects, birds, and deer, as it does with stinging thoughts and sentimental feelings.
At any rate, I thought I would share one of these inner life lessons that I think is essential for those who aspire to realize their relationship with the Divine.
Several years back, I began throwing peanuts out to some of the yakking stellar jays that would regularly visit my birdfeeders for the free seed they’d find there. Over time, I began learning some of the calls these birds make, and gradually became able to call them in to me from the woods around my house where they must nest. Eventually I became friends with one of these jays that I came to name, “Heckle.” Little did I know how prophetic his name would be!
As our relationship developed, Heckle eventually learned the following: if he would just land on one of the little bonsai trees that sit directly in front of the large window (behind which I sit and do my work), and stare at me “longingly”… eventually I’d have to get up from my chair and throw him some peanuts! He even learned to rustle and fluff up his feathers, as do baby birds to elicit the feeding response from their parents. I was powerless!
Now almost every day — several times a day, in fact — Heckle shows up “asking” for a few treats. His persistence is impossible to describe. But what I can tell you is that when he sits there in front of me long enough, invariably I have to get up out of my chair to answer his non-verbal request. And if this relationship is in any way a reflection of the truth of what happens when a request is made consistently and persistently by one creature of another — which I am sure it is — then how much more true would this hold for someone who, persistently and consistently, asks God for a new life? Just as I am unable to refuse what this beautiful blue bird with its black crown asks of me, so is the very Goodness that has revealed this relationship incapable of refusing a measure of itself to any and all who ask.
Persistence and consistency in one’s interior work are not powers to be won, but rather preexist our awakening to the need for them in our lives. The man or woman who genuinely thirsts needs never be reminded of how much they need water. Persist!