Dear Readers,

It’s a wonder I ever write anything. My computer faces a window. Outside is a fence. On one of the posts my husband mounted a birdhouse painted like a flower-bedecked country cottage. The house fails to meet government specs for bluebird houses, but a bright little couple moved in anyway. So our environmentally sound “bluebird house” sits empty while the happy parents raise their family in the snug little cottage.

A bluebird’s life is not all sunshine and worms, however. This morning a chickadee couple decided they liked the looks of the neighborhood. They loitered by the door eyeing things until both bluebirds flew out and in no uncertain terms told them the house already had tenants, thank you. Then mom and dad sat on the fence, one on either side of the house doing guard duty, in case the intruders returned. I suspect the babies are hatched, not only because of their protective behavior; but the number of trips in and out. No rest for weary parents at mealtime.

What an awesome God we serve! He provides endless variety in nature to delight us. Who can help but smile at the giraffe with his long neck, a blue-tailed skink, the dolphin’s grin, or even an ant walking on a peony. What TV show can compare to a birdfeeder attracting dozens of colorful species. My one-year-old grandson, Alex, flaps his “wings” when he sees them and chortles with excitement at our pesky squirrel. Few movies fill the heart with delight, but who could fail to be charmed by the chipmunks who rob my strawberry patch. It is small payment for the return they give.

Jesus understood the power of nature to thrill the human heart. He didn’t tell stories about the wonder of the Roman roads and viaducts or Pilate’s Palace, despite their grandeur. He spoke of little lambs, the wheat and the weeds, glorious wild lilies, the farmer sowing seed, the fox’s den. These images resonated with people who farmed or fished, but they still resonate with us today in our overly programmed lives, surrounded by gizmos and gadgets. Why? Because they address what is most real. Television is an illusion. Even “reality” TV is mostly fake.

It doesn’t invite us to reflect on the true, the good, and the beautiful. Family life is real: saying grace before dinner, rocking a sick child, praying the rosary by candlelight, helping a sibling with a science project, washing the car on a hot summer day and ending with a water battle, picking flowers for a grieving neighbor. It is St. Therese’s “little way,” doing the ordinary with extraordinary love.

Father John Hardon, that dear and holy Jesuit (May he be raised to the honors of the altar.) challenged Catholics to “live in the real world.” Those who do will never be sucked into the illusory delights of pornography, or adultery, or sodomy. Sin is too small for us. Even nature is only a shadow, a visible reminder of God’s love. What delights wait for those who let the “Word made Flesh” fill their souls! To paraphrase St. Augustine, “O, Lord, You made our hearts for Thee and ever restless will they be until they rest in Thee.” Amen. Alleluia.

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