Young Mr Woodpecker doesn't believe in sharing. He hogs the feeder totally to himself and woe betide any sparrow or blue tit who tries to join him.
Many a time I've seen a beak full of feathers go west (and woodpeckers have big beaks!) as a brave little fellow young enough to think himself invincible tries to dine with his greater spotted brother who's having none of it. So the woodpecker hangs on repelling
all boarders and the queue builds up.
I am reminded of a supermarket till when a dear shopper yaps away to the cashier and then takes an age packing her bags, oblivious to the fact that the queue behind her has
reached epic proportions.
Do the sparrows (or the fellow shoppers in the supermarket) become contemplative while they wait? Do they look around them at the minuntae of beauty that lives
within ordinariness? Do they use the time to reflect on all the gifts of life? It would appear not! They strut and flutter and twirp and tweet until the woodpecker eventually leaves presumably with a headache and they all make a dash for the fat balls, arguing
amongst themselves, pushing and shoving, having learnt from the woodpecker how to duff each other up more effectively.
Eventually order is restored and the frantic fury dies down
as 6 or 7 sparrows feed gracefully side by side hanging on as the feeder gently sways and the realisation that there is enough for everyone gradually sinks in and the truth that if they just get on with the business of eating and not worrying about the others
who are indeed neighbours not rivals, then they can eat more, enjoy more and life is altogether better, calmer and more satisfying.
So what can we learn from the woodpecker and
the sparrows? What do we fight needlessly for? What are we always first in the queue for? What do we hang on to ? What gifts might waiting bless us with? What might sharing mean for us at this point in our lives?
A man spoke with the Lord about heaven and hell.
The Lord said to the man,"Come, I will show you hell." They entered a room where a group
of people sat around a huge pot of stew. Everyone was famished, desperate and starving. Each held a spoon that reached the pot, but each spoon had a handle so much longer than their own arm that it could not be used to get the stew into their own mouths. The
suffering was terrible. "Come, now I will show you heaven,"the Lord said after a while. They entered another room, identical to the first - the pot of stew, the group of people, the same long-handled spoons. But there everyone was happy and well-nourished.
"I don't understand,"said the man."Why are they happy here when they were miserable in the other room and everything was the same?" The Lord smiled,"Ah, it is simple,"he said."here they have learned to feed each other."