We run three bird restaurants at our house. We placed them as close as possible to windows, so we always have a clear view of the endless stream of the many kinds of birds that come to dine. While I watch the birds through the window, I often carry on conversations with them, although probably one sided.
I love that sometimes when we go for a walk, birds follow along hopping from tree to tree, and we pretend they are coming home with us for lunch. Who knows, perhaps they are.
In the winter, I drag a table next to my office door, put a pole into the hole that is for the summer umbrella, and hang feeders from it. This makes it easy to change and add food, without stepping outside. For me, one of the best parts of winter is to have birds eating just inches from my face as I watch them through the glass door. Recently I added little plates of extra kinds of food on the table to accommodate different appetites.
That’s where the grape jelly and its unintentional consequences come in. In the summer, I put out grape jelly for the birds, so I didn’t think anything of doing it in the winter. All was well for the first day. Then, it happened. I heard a little peep and looked outside to see two chickadees in the grape jelly dish. Both appeared to be eating the jelly, but something wasn’t right.
It took a few seconds for me to realize that one bird was stuck. The jelly, because of the cold, had turned into glue. I scooped up the stuck bird, leaving a few feathers behind. I chose to think that his beak grabbing my finger was a gesture of thanks, and started pulling globs of grape jelly off him. Big globs. He struggled out of my hand and landed on the deck. “Too soon, my little friend,” I said. He was still unable to fly.
Picking him up again, I removed as many little pieces of jelly I could find, and then used the water from the birdbath to clean him even more. He held on to me with his beak, and his two recently-released- from-jelly feet until most of the jelly was gone.
Feeling clean, he flew from my hand to the ground below the deck. I couldn’t do anymore for him, other than hope he was able to get more bird help to remove anything else stuck to him, and to take the jelly inside until next summer.
I meant to do something good, but I had unwittingly caused a problem. I know this happens to all of us. Sometimes the good we intend to do, doesn’t turn out well. We clean up our mess, and learn not to do that again.
Sometimes we find others stuck in situations that we didn’t cause. We still do our best to help out, trusting that all will be well, and allowing them to help themselves.
Thinking about the chickadee in the grape jelly, I realized there was another lesson in what happened.
That same day I had overheard a conversation about not being willing to change. I realized that not being willing to change is like the bird in the grape jelly. Perhaps we have fallen into what used to work, but times have changed, and now it holds us in place like glue.
Perhaps we heard something and agreed with it, and now we can’t get out of the agreement. Or, we made a decision about something we wanted, and now we can’t move on.
Sometimes we are not too stuck, and we can remove ourselves. Other times it is just too much to do on our own, and like the chickadee, we need help.
Too many of the things that we believe in, or have agreed with, or made decisions about, are no longer true for us, and yet we remain in those grape jelly belief systems. Whether we sat down in it on purpose, or did so unaware, we are still allowed to escape and fly away.
Life may be just a bowl of cherries as the song says, but it contains grape jelly areas, and it is not always easy to avoid them. However, that doesn’t mean we have to be stuck in it forever. Give a peep; someone is always there to help.