I bought a 50-pound bag of bird seed at the feed store and carefully laid it in the trunk. When I got home I found the bag inexplicably leaking seeds . Then I remembered that earlier I’d brought an old car battery to the drop off center. Mystery solved. Acid leakage from the battery had eaten through the bag. I wondered if any of the acid might have come in contact with the seeds. Certainly not much, I thought. Then, as lifted the bag from the trunk, a handful of seeds spilled onto the pea gravel in the driveway.
I immediately started calculating the odds. Out of the thousands of seeds in that 50-pound bag, it wasn’t likely, that any of the spilled seeds would have acid on it. But if by chance they did, and a a bird ate it? My offering turns to death.
I had to admit I was complicit due to my earlier inattention. I got down on my hands and knees and began to pick the possibly poisoned seeds from the gravel. I started with the easy targets, the black sunflower seeds. But as I brushed away the larger pieces of gravel, more and more tiny millet seeds appeared. Every time I thought I’d found the last seed, I’d brush away a little more sand and gravel and more seeds appeared. Many times I thought, that’s probably good enough. But I kept coming back to the thought… what if a bird picks out that one seed, and that seed is poisoned? The sunlight was rapidly fading. I couldn’t wait till morning to finish the job because the birds would be up and eating before me.
As I stayed with the task, I remembered the story (from Afghanistan) of the man who meticulously swept and swept one small spot. He explained his actions to a passerby by telling him that God sometimes came down to dance right there in that very spot. He wanted it always to be ready. Today, this patch of gravel was that spot.
Can I live like this everyday? More attentive to what I sow and what I say, more careful to do less harm in word and deed? My lesson began in my own driveway in a circle a foot across and widening.
The next morning I woke up to finches chirping in the sage brush.