The Goldfinches Return

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP
Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-12)

In a blog I wrote last summer, I asked the question: do goldfinches tweet? How is it that they know to find the birdseed left for them in our backyard?

I did not realize then that when winter comes, the male goldfinches lose their brilliant yellow color and their coats fade into a winter gray as a protection against predators. Now that Spring is exploding in our backyard again, the goldfinches are returning with their fabulous yellow feathers.

I learned recently that (according to Mark Sibley, at “molt is the process of feather replacement. All birds do it; they have to grow new feathers once or twice a year to stay warm, dry, and airborne, [italics mine] and in many cases they grow differently colored feathers at different seasons to match their surroundings or to impress others of their species.”

It occurs to me that from time to time, I am being invited to a change in the color of my feathers. That is, I hear an invitation to drop old ways of being and put on new ones; to be willing to let go of one way of thinking and take on another new way. I feel like I have been doing that quite a bit lately. I used to think about some things one way and now, I feel called to think about them another way. Have you ever had that happen?

Pope Francis sure seems to be calling us to it. In a nutshell he has been saying: don’t judge, have mercy, see the earth as your home.

He seems to be calling us to change our feathers and I am feeling it. The molt is happening in me; I’m dropping the grey winter feathers and taking on the brighter ones. I feel “warm, dry and airborne.” Everything seems brighter, the sun is warmer, the sky seems bluer and the crispness of the air is not a damp and chilly frost. It feels like Spring is springing up inside of me. I’m ready for something new, not sure what it is – but I feel open to the possibilities that springtime offers.

I love that the Easter Season continues to proclaim our God as a Resurrection God. I much prefer God this way, a God of Spring, of new life, vitality and bloom.

How is Spring “springing” in you? Is there something new on the horizon for you? Are you closer to realizing some new venture? Do you see the end of one path and the beginning of another? Do you sense some old feathers dropping off and new ones coming in? Are you molting? Do you notice the birds?

Isn’t God amazing?

Posted in Weekly Word

10 responses to “The Goldfinches Return

  1. Anne,

    Thank you again for your inspiring message. I will think of it every time I see a gold finch outside our Chapel windo.

  2. Anne,I thought I knew a little about birds, again
    You bring me up short. Thank you for the meditation. What new colors will I be given to attract more to the Kingdom?

  3. Anne,imagine how our good God cares for the birds.What lovely things he does for us that we
    might attract more to his kingdom.

  4. Oh, yes, I am molting! Still waiting to see the color of my new feathers! Thanks for the imagery of your preaching, Anne!

  5. Anne, With you on this one. Sat watching my friend’s bird feeder yesterday and there was the first gold finch in his gold and black finery along with his mate in her green and black. It was good to welcome them back. When I look at the birds in the wonder of their design and colors, I really want to “meet” the Designer!

  6. Go, feathers! Fly away and let new ones fill in; let the
    good times roll. Let us change and be changed as needed
    for the good of the planet and the Kingdom.

  7. I love the symbolism of your essay. Thanks.

    Your questioning whether goldfinches tweet makes me question how gulls from Lake Michigan know to go to Notre Dame campus six day a year. They go to clean up the parking lot after home football games. Do they post the football schedule somewhere?

  8. Anne, So I ask myself ” just how high do I think I can spring IN THIS SACRED SPACE? AND WHAT COLOR IS MY HAT? Thanks for the meditation.

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