Split-Second Surprises

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Well, here’s another adventure in the back yard —one of my favorite places.  A mother bird built a nest on the upper curve of a downspout outside the back door. An ingenious spot that provides shelter overhead from the roof eaves and added protection because it is up high.

We’ve been watching her movements and trying to sort out what’s going on in the nest. We concluded she was incubating some eggs because for the longest time she would sit there for hours and hours without leaving. It’s almost impossible for us to see into the nest because of its location.  There was just no way for us to get up there and look inside. It was killing me.

Sure enough, after a few weeks of keeping vigil, she had some babies. We think two.  We figured that’s because she was fussing in the nest, going back-and-forth and poking at whatever was in there. Her behavior definitely changed and there was a lot of activity going on. One day, by some little miracle I was looking out the kitchen window, trying to get a better glimpse of the nest.  At just the right angle, in a split second, mother bird shows up with a worm in her mouth and up pops the big mouth of a tiny baby bird. Without hesitation, the mother dropped the worm into the baby’s mouth.  I was startled by it and could hardly believe that I happened to be in the right place at the right time for a half a second to witness this amazing thing.

I still feel the shock of it, the startled jolt that went through me is still so real, even as I wonder if I could have imagined it. But it happened. A split-second surprise, when nature astonishes. How does she know how to do this? Nature instinctively and with intelligence finds what is needed for life. No one told her how to build a nest or why she needed to sit and warm the eggs. No one told her to find food and feed her young. She just knows. A mere sparrow.

 And He said to His disciples, “For this reason, I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single [hour to her life’s span? (Luke 12: 22-25)

So what’s the message for today?  Don’t worry and stay ready – be alert for surprises.  At a moment’s notice, God can break into an ordinary day and surprise you. Be on the lookout for it. Through nature, the smile of a stranger, the words of a child. Any minute, in a split second, you might get a visit from the divine.

It takes paying attention. Be ready for anything. I think God is just behind the door, around the corner, poised in a hidden place, waiting for us to notice something wonderful.

Stay alert. Try not to miss it.

Posted in Weekly Word

18 responses to “Split-Second Surprises

  1. Once again, wonderful reflection! You’re “spot on” as they say in “merry old England’ and that’s not “New England…

  2. Well Anne,
    You did it again bringing us into the loving presence of our ever provident God. I still worry some yet God always surprises me as when I least expect it.

    Blessings on your preaching,

  3. We had a similar aha moment here in Mohun at lunchtime the other day. As we were looking out at the beautiful pansies on our patio we noticed what I thought was a huge bumble bee. One of our staff thought it was a baby hummingbird, but after checking things out on the internet, she found out it was a hummingbird moth. These are rarely seen! What a wonderful expression of God’s creative genius.

  4. Thank you, Anne. I needed the reminder to stay alert for God’s surprises. I needed to be reminded to stay, stay, stay in the present and see what God is messaging to us through God’s creation.

  5. Great Anne, maybe next time you will get to see the male and female exchanging places — together they bring “material” to build the nest, take turns nourishing /sitting keeping the eggs warm. Amazing how the male in the “animal-kingdom” is actually involved in the pre-birthing process. They built a nest outside my window sill so saw the whole process — lot of thought for meditation. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Anne,
    I too noticed a bird tending a nest on a high downspout of a roof across from my room; an even better view of another
    nest in a bush in the pedway to the chapel! Indeed these
    amazing “mothers” display God’s creation giving moments
    of contemplation. Thanks for your “surprise” and the great

  7. Thanks, Anne, for sharing your rendezvous with the bird.
    AH! we have so much to learn from nature if we just take the time. This is a great reminder.

  8. Love this! Yes, God always seems to leave little surprise gifts. While driving somewhere I missed my turn, had to double back and saw a little bantam Silkie chicken bopping down the road looking like a dancing feather duster! Delightful having a nest to watch…enjoy!

  9. Anne, You nailed it! On my way out the door this morning to go get the paper, I asked the early Risers if anyone needed something from the store. I ended up buying two chicken dinners along with my paper. The Road to Emmaus shore does raise some interesting encounters!

  10. Anne, You got it! I was on my way out the door and saw some early Risers in the chairs. In my query to anyone needing something over at the store where I was going, I ended up buying two chicken dinners for one of the Residents. The “Road to Emmaus” sure can be full of surprises!

  11. Thank you Sister Anne, this was just the “Word” I needed for today, along with one of my favorite scriptures!

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