Year after year they keep track of the birds as they first appear in the spring, writing down what they see in their ledgers. They publish this. You can read these: Cinnamon Teals and Blue-ringed Teals and plovers and yellowlegs and terns. Hidden, they see what is hidden; unnoticed, they notice, and they write it all down, as if it matters, as if it makes any difference.
Because it does. Nothing matters more.
Vaux’s Swift: Earliest Arrival Date: 5 April Average Arrival Date: 19 April
Records Kept: 34 years
Vesper Sparrow: Earliest Arrival Date: 19 March Average Arrival Date: 12 April
Records Kept: 15 years
Eastern Kingbirds, Western Kingbirds, Vireos—Warbling, Cassin’s, Red-Eyed—and Nashville Warblers and Yellow Warblers and Black-Throated Grays and birds I didn’t know we had, didn’t know came through here, from wherever they come, here in the valley where I walk and look out at the rooftops and the hills one morning when the cherry trees are blossoming and there is a haze in the air like fall.
Before we pray, Anthony de Mello says, we should “seek this disposition: that we embark upon this exercise not for ourselves alone but for the welfare of creation, of which we are a part, and that any transformation we experience will redound to the benefit of the world.”
This is the hardest thing to believe, and the most freeing. That what we think and feel matters. That the inner life is as real as the outer, and finally even more so. That somehow we are all connected.
God comes to Julian of Norwich holding out “a little thing” like a nut, a hazelnut, something small and round and hard, and looking at it Julian is confused. What is this?
God answers: “it is all that is made.”
All that is made? How can that be, Julian asks, “for it seems it might suddenly have sunk into nothing because of its littleness.”
And then she is answered again: “it lasts and ever shall, because God loves it.”
Not a sparrow falls, Jesus says, but that the Father knows it.