Stuffing Sticks

A little marsh wren frequents my backyard almost every summer – a small bird of nondescript brown with a joyous trilling song, a saucy flip-up tail, and a rather strange habit. Scattered throughout the willows and poplars that fringe and cluster in the most private portion of the yard are several bird houses. Some of these are bona fide bird abodes; others are purely decorative. Marsh Wren chooses one of the houses as a nesting place, and then proceeds with great purpose and ambition to fill all the other houses with sticks. Even the smallest, most useless decorative house is crammed full of small twigs. Call it territorial with a side of OCD or just brazenly selfish, it is rather amusing to watch. Some latent conniving impish impulse makes me contemplate adding several more birdhouses to the area just to see if Marshy can fill them all.

I’ve told a few people about my little feathered saboteur, usually for the chuckles the telling produces, but as I’ve considered Marshy’s behaviour, I have started wondering if we are just as prone to a similar stick-stuffing behaviour…

We are territorial people when it comes to positions and possessions we deem to be rightfully ours. Even relationships and interactions with others are too often either fostered or avoided for our own gain and exclusivity rather than for any sense of mutuality, inclusion or graciousness.  As we blithely pursue our somewhat self-focused lives, we may not be quite as deliberate and blatantly obvious as Marshy filling bird houses, but if we took the time to look at the lives of others in our wake, we may just find them buried under piles of sticks, their lives sabotaged in some way by our pursuit of our wants and desires, our significance and value, our plans and purposes above all.

It is easy to recognize the times when our lives have been stuffed with sticks – the tangled mess is ostracizing and painful.  What is far less recognizable is how our stick-stuffing habits are hurting those around us…

1 thought on “Stuffing Sticks”

  1. My Mom & Dad loved birds. Their neatly kept town yard had more trees than most and scattered in both the front and back yards were birdbaths, a variety of bird feeders, as well as bird houses perched in various places and heights amongst branches or on posts. For them, the beautiful little feathered creatures were a daily reminders that God cares about all the little details. My Dad even installed a large picture window in Mom’s small sewing room where she spent many hours creating beautiful pieces of art with fabric. Her sewing machine was placed directly in front of that window so that she could watch her beloved birds in the yard as she sewed.
    They would have loved the entirety of this post Charis….

    Liked by 1 person

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