Our backyard was a bird sanctuary on Sunday afternoon.
Our city is a commuter stop for rose-breasted grosbeaks. Our yard was hosting a few. Our goldfinch regulars have just turn gold for the summer and were enjoying the brightness. The sapsucker was working its way down the oak tree. The sparrows were trying to make up in motion what they lacked in color.
It was a perfect show. And Nancy wasn’t home. She was working her own show, helping at the Spring concert of a couple hundred members of the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir.
I borrowed Hope’s camera. It’s better than my cellphone. I eased the deck door open. I was doing my best to capture the congregation.
And the house phone rang.
“Hi,” the caller said. “I’m ___ and I’m running for ____. I was wondering if you have any questions for me and whether I can count on your vote.”
I said “Hi” and I said something that I can’t remember. And then I laughed and said, “I’m watching grosbeaks in our back yard.”
We finished our brief conversation. The candidate said, “I’ll let you go back to birdwatching.”
But I wasn’t birdwatching. I was showing love to my wife, spending time and attention on a gift of imagery that was more important at that moment than a primary election conversation.
I think that happens all the time. We offer people a chance to talk to us, to help us out, without considering that they may be doing the most important thing in their life.
I know that the candidate was working a plan, so many calls yields so many votes. But you and I aren’t working a plan. We get to take the time to listen closely and say, “What’s a grosbeak?” Or even, “Consider the birds of the air.”