It’s official! My hubby and I have become the ultimate nerd couple. We spent a weekend in Cape May, NJ birdwatching with binoculars around our necks, cameras in hand and apps making bird calls on our phones. We may look weird but we are actually having a lot of fun!
Each fall hundreds of bird enthusiasts descend on the little town of Cape May at the tip of New Jersey, to watch the migrating birds that will gather there before crossing the Delaware Bay as they continue south for the winter. Our anniversary also happens to fall in October, so it’s a perfect excuse to splurge ourselves on a weekend at a Victorian bed and breakfast while spending the days hiking the trails along the beach and salt marshes in search of birds and the last few straggling monarch butterflies.
This weekend’s viewing was spectacular – hawks and kestrels, warblers and goldfinch and I lost count of how many different species of ducks we found. We even saw a bald eagle in flight, who stuck around and gave us quite a show! The only thing missing were my favorites, Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets. Water levels seemed a bit low so I wondered if they had moved inland in search of deeper water for fishing.
On Sunday morning, we tried a new spot, bigger than a pond but too small for a lake and were delighted to find many ducks and water birds there. As we drove up, my husband was trying to look through the trees on the bank and excitedly pointed out something big and white in the trees above the water. “There’s your egret!” he shouted as he pulled over to park. As I turned to look, the trees had obscured my view of the egret but I could see two great blue herons sitting in the trees. “What are you talking about? I asked. “Those are
two herons”. He grabbed his binoculars and ran to the lake’s edge. Training his binoculars on the egret. “Herons? he laughed, “that big white one is a egret.” Now I’m confused because I had focused my binoculars on the herons just twenty feet away from the Egret. Even though egrets and herons are roughly the same size, they are clearly two very different birds. “What are you talking about? There are two herons right there.”
At this point the gentlemen standing about ten feet away from us put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Do you two realize that there are both egrets and herons here? The egret is there (pointing to the left) and the three herons are there (pointing to the right). We lowered our binoculars to get a wider view and realized that we were both looking at two different birds that were only about twenty feet from each other. And there was even a third heron in the water that I couldn’t see because I had my binoculars trained on the two roosting in the trees. We all had a good laugh at how blind people can be and all it takes is one kind stranger to point out the obvious.
Now, I started to think about that. We weren’t within the four walls of a church building that morning but God had taken us to His church. We were surrounded by creation, but each of us had chosen to focus on a very small portion of it and had almost missed the bigger picture. Perhaps if we had focused on God first, instead of relying on our binoculars, we would have avoided the frustration and misunderstanding. God has so much for each of us, yet we tend to live within very narrow perimeters that we set up thinking that we are protecting ourselves. If I can only remember to keep my focus on God, and not worry about what birds I haven’t seen yet, I bet that I will get to see a lot more of what He has in store for me.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.