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  • Wayne Chasney

Birds of a Feather


Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts…(Acts 2:46)

 

              Last week, Wendy and I spent some time at Magee Marsh birdwatching. This week is “The Biggest Week in American Birding,” due in part to the large bird migration happening now, but there was still a good number of early birds to enjoy last week. Better still, last week didn’t have the crowds they are seeing at the hottest spots this week.

              We soon discovered some crowds are helpful, though. We are not experienced birdwatchers. We are not particularly knowledgeable about bird species (there’s an app for that!) nor are we especially good at picking birds out in the forest. So it was helpful to come around a corner and see a group of people all standing together, staring through their binoculars or cameras in same direction, because we knew there was likely a bird to be seen and someone to help us identify it.

              For the past 20 years, a growing number of Christians have identified themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Often what that means is they no longer identify with a particular church or denomination but rather practice their own spirituality, often in nature, rarely with others.

              While I am happy for them if this feeds their soul, at the same time I feel a little sad for them. They are missing out on the depths of tradition, history, and the power of having your own personal journey shared with others. This community they avoid is there for one another when our journey takes us into a wilderness and also can challenge us to grow and experience faith in ways we might otherwise miss.

              Sometimes there is strength in numbers. Sometimes those around us, friends and strangers alike, can get us looking in the right direction and help us figure out just what we are seeing. It’s okay to go looking on your own, but sometimes we need just a little help from our friends.

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