By Letty Lanza
Another gray February morning. The side yard filled with pockets of brown mud where grass should grow. Humidity hanging heavy on this Texas morning. The ink colored berries on the Indian Hawthorne have been replaced with small white and barely pink buds.
And, that I think is his problem. That and also the fact that small pieces of walnut have been gone from my front walk for more than a week.
We are not friends he and I. More like acquaintances who have become dependent on one another. He on me for the small pieces of walnut. And, I on him for the lightness he brings that always lifts my frustration and late winter angst.
I have never actually seen him eat the berries only watched as he acrobats from one shaking branch to another and then to the windowsill and finally to the walk.
I have forgotten him of late.
For several days, my mornings have been filled with rush. The wetness of the air has made trips outside unpleasant. My flowerbeds need clearing. Leaf filled gutters need cleaning. Spring is knocking on Texas’ door. And, I am not prepared for the effort it will take to open it to sod laying and planting.
So, I avoid my yard. Going from car to house door without a glance. In that avoidance, I have forgotten my furry, gray acquaintance.
But now he is outside my window pulling on the plants closest to it. I remember my part of the bargain so I gather a handful of walnuts and two pecans from a friend’s tree and spread them on the walkway.
His eyes, however, are not on my sidewalk. Instead, he continues to scurry through the bushes. Then abruptly he stops to view the crepe myrtle tree and the heavens above it. His head stays lifted to the skies for several moments. Then lowers. His attention now on the walk full of walnuts and pecans.
He picks up the largest pecan and holds it close to his mouth. Hesitates and lifts his eyes again toward the tall crepe myrtle as if praying a silent grace in gratitude.
I wonder if he thinks the nuts are gifts from the heavens and the trees and not from me.
He finishes the pecan and picks up a small walnut then hurries off toward the azaleas. As he passes them, I notice a few of the buds have turned to fuchsia flowers.
He travels past the iris plant. Its leaves have turned a dark, spring green.
The morning clouds are separating just enough to let streams of lemon-colored light flow through them.
I stand on the edge of my front stoop surveying the nut-filled walk and the bright pink azaleas and greening iris that border them. If I hurry home from work this afternoon there may be just enough February daylight to begin the digging and trimming. I’m filled with energy and sunlight and eager plans.
I raise my eyes to heaven in thanksgiving for the Grace that’s changed my mood. For the blessing that’s brought lightness to this day. And, there in the trees below those heavens sits my furry acquaintance.
He tilts his head toward me and then rushes down the tree, again pass the blooming and vibrant azaleas to the walk still filled with nuts.
The walnut he apparently wants is the one closest to the edge of the stoop where I am standing. Fearlessly, he approaches it while I stay motionless.
He lifts it from the ground. Holding it, he stares at me for just a moment.
He scurries away, his gift in my heart and my gifts in his hands.
God’s gifts are in my heart and God’s gifts are in your hands. Though we look to the Heavens for the answers to our needs, God places His response in the words and actions of family, friend, stranger and sometimes even furry creature.
In these weeks before Lent, consider each evening how God has answered your prayers through the words and actions of others. Consider how your actions could be the response to another person’s needs. Then look for a way to let your God-given gifts flow into the lives of others.
Stewardship Scripture: “On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, ‘Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as scripture says, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” – John 37:38-39