What a treat I had on Wednesday morning! I always sit on my sofa so that I can look out at our deck and the Sugar Maple that sits in front of it. Because we live in a second-story condo I am privileged to see all the birds that come to rest in the branches of the tree. The Lord knows how much I enjoy His winged creatures, and on this day, He was going to put on an outstanding show for me.
For quite some time, the Maple has hosted the Downy Woodpecker. This particular morning two came to hammer at the dying branches in search of worms. They stayed so long that my guess is that they must have found food. In addition, they were joined by a large, Red-bellied Woodpecker. I have not seen one of these so closely before. It was a thrill for me to watch all three birds at work. The larger woodpecker did not stay long, but the others were joined by two Black-capped Chickadees. They came looking for a drink. Only the very edge of my birdbath provided a small amount of refreshing since most of the water is frozen. But then they made a discovery! The Sugar Maple sits on the south side of our building. As the sun shines on it in the wintertime, the sugary sap begins to run. It seems to be running early this year. So many holes have been tapped into this Maple by the woodpeckers that the sap is dripping out of the branches. The Chickadees clung to the small branches and placed their beaks just below a hole so that they could capture the watery sap.
As all this was going on a flock of robins flew onto the ground below to peck the frozen ground. Two of the birds left the flock and came up to sharpen their beaks on the Maple branches. They do this by moving their heads from side to side. In the process they discovered the potted Japanese Holly I have on our deck. It is loaded with small, round, blue-black berries. Using their just-sharpened beaks, they began to pick the berries off the bush to consume them. If all this was not enough, my final visitors were sparrows who sang me a pretty song.
The Spirit of God always has a lesson for me from nature, and I knew this was the case on Wednesday. Sadly, my Sugar Maple has been slowly dying. My guess is that it was planted improperly some thirty plus years ago. I inspected its roots several years ago and found they are not spreading at the base as they should be. This would indicate that the roots are restricted. The Maple has put up a good fight over the years but appears to only have a few years of life remaining. However, in its dying, this tree is imparting life. It gives the birds a resting place, a branch for sharpening their beaks, food, and sweet water. It stands as a life-giving testimony of imparting life in death.
I am reminded of our Savior, Jesus the Messiah. He came to earth to give all people life through His death. He died on a cross called "a tree." Everyone is welcome to partake of the life He offers through our acknowledgement of what He did for us. Here is what the prophet Isaiah has to say about Him: "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) We have been given so much through the sacrifice of the Lord! The apostle Paul prayed for his brother in the faith, Philemon, this way: "I pray for you that the faith we share may effectively deepen your understanding of every good thing that belongs to you in Christ." (Philemon, Verse 6 - TPT) I pray this for you and that you will remember how my dying tree provides life for the birds who come to it as Christ dying on the "tree" provides life for all of us who believe in Him.
Joan E. Mathias