A lesson learned from an unlikely source

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Rev. Walter Klockers

I fill my two bird feeders in the morning. One contains nyjer or thistle seed; the goldfinches favor these. The other has sunflower seed. A variety of birds are drawn to them: mostly house finches, doves and red-winged black birds.

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of squirrels. I don’t like it when they climb up the wrought iron pole that holds the feeders on shepherd hooks. They then jump on the feeder that contains the sunflower seed and gorge themselves. This irritates me to no end because I cast seed on the ground for them, but they don’t find this to be enough.

Last year, I planted a number of thorny barberry bushes around it. This proved to be successful for a while. Then I resorted to greasing the pole with Vaseline, which seemed to work. However, as a deterrent, I needed to apply it on a daily basis, which was not very practical.

A couple of weeks ago, a number of people suggested that I attach a Slinky to the pole. So, I purchased one. I cut both ends in order to feed the curled wire around and secured it at the top. I was somewhat skeptical that it would work but I wanted to give it a try.

I have to admit, the first attempts by the squirrels were entertaining to watch. To my delight they failed time and time again. I watched one particular squirrel as she/he studied the Slinky from the ground for quite some time, from every possible angle, before an attempt that led to misadventure.

In spite of my victory, I know they will continue to try … and likely, through their persistence, overcome what is before them.

There are lessons we can learn from these furry critters. Their dogged determination helps them to succeed. They use every tool at their disposal to figure things out. It is part of their nature.

I liken this to an active life of faith that is practiced and is not passive; an approach employed on a daily basis. So when we encounter obstacles — as difficult as they may seem — our faith will carry us through. All of this is food for thought. Please don’t squirrel it away, intended only for later use.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.

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