catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 16 :: 2010.09.10 — 2010.09.23


Birds of a feather

One day last week, during my morning commute, I couldn’t help but notice a large flock of birds sitting together on an overhanging power line. The train station that I visit is located in the industrial section of town. Huge towering wooden poles support numerous power lines that crisscross the sky. The lines go on as far as the eye can see.

Most of the power lines were empty, but on one particular section, about twenty feet in length, around a hundred birds sat in a row, all facing the same direction. Every so often one of the birds would leave, and then a few others would join the group. They sat so calmly together, leaving all of the other power lines empty. In fact, I did not see birds sitting on any other lines.

I wondered why those birds all sat on that one particular section? As the saying goes, why do birds of a feather flock together?

Out of curiosity, I searched the Internet for more information. One expert says that in areas with very few trees, birds will gather on the highest available perch — thus the electric line.  These locations where many birds gather are known as “staging sites.” These sites are safe locations where the birds can congregate before or during migration. These spots also provide a place for birds to congregate between feedings or to roost for the night.  For some species of birds, gathering in groups is meant to help them raise their children. They stay together to remain safe from predators or to help one another locate food.  One wildlife biologist informs that birds sitting on a wire will often face the same way — into the wind. That way, they are set for take off. Birds facing the wind also don’t get their feathers ruffled.

The symbols here are obvious to me…and convicting. You see, I am an independent soul. I tend to resist joining groups. As a young girl, I never enjoyed being a Girl Scout. In school, I liked to do my science fair experiments independently. It has always been easier for me to go it alone.

Yet, like these birds, I know that I am designed by God to live in community. As a believer, I must realize that it is safer and more advisable for me to live my life in the company of others. Like these birds, practices like raising my child, finding nourishment and fending off predators will all be more easily accomplished by being connected to others in the faith.

Church communities, if we belong to one, can serve as our staging site. It is at this location that we gather together to prepare for adversity, to face the wind, to get ready to take off. During the week we face troubles. Life has a way of overwhelming with us with busyness, with endless to-do lists and with small and big emergencies. In the staging area, we prepare to face it and are better for it.

The last article I read in my research showed a picture of thousands of birds gathering together on one strip of land. The impact of so many birds in one spot transformed an ugly industrial area into an amazing spectacle. One observer said that “the skies blackened with birds and the crescendo of their calls drowned out the noises from the highway.”

Together, we can make an impact for God. Together, we can make our worlds more beautiful and drown out the noise of sin and despair. As Hebrews 10:25 reminds us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

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