If you support the community, they will support you.
~Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
Every morning around 10:45, the birds begin their mid-day feeding. Brightly colored gold finches and blue birds offset the black and white masks of the chickadees and nuthatches. Regal red male cardinals survey the scene before calling their mates to join the feeding. Jays, nuthatches, titmice, wrens, and woodpeckers round out the group creating a diverse community of feathered friends right outside my back door.
Today, I grabbed my cup of tea and pulled my little red stool up to the window. With four more inches of snow on the ground, the birds swarmed the bird feeders hanging in the trees. Even typical ground feeding species waited patiently for a turn to nibble on sunflower, suet, and seed. I observed the intricate dance of mealtime in my backyard. I was amazed to see how the birds made a place for each neighbor—everyone had an opportunity to eat, and everyone had a chance to visit. No one, regardless of size or shape, was left out of the meal. Chirping and singing filled the fairy tale forest scene that is my backyard after a snowstorm. This amazing dance of give and take made it seem as if this community had its own choreographer arranging every move. I didn’t want it to end.
Within 20 minutes, however, the birds started drifting away and left me sitting at the window, drinking my tea, and wondering about “community.” Here in this small ecosystem I call my backyard, a group of very diverse species come together three times a day and partake of a very important ritual—feeding. Yet, in spite of the desire to meet their own individual needs, they engage in this intricate dance of interdependence, coming and going, waiting and feeding, sharing and visiting.
It made me wonder—how can I do that in my own “backyard?” What are some of the “ecosystems” which form my community—family, my daughter’s school/friends, church, LightShare’s programs. Who am I in this community dance—a teacher, a mother, a friend, a daughter. What can I do in the intricate “dance” of my community that will lend itself to appreciating the diversity while honoring each individual, to wait my turn and share what I have, to support others and to be supported?
As we move forward in our day-to-day, let us not forget that we are a part of a very intricate system of relationships. Our lives, our priorities, and our concerns not only impact the decisions we make but also touch the lives of those around us. As we work to build community in our backyards, may we engage compassionately and peacefully in the interdependent nature of our community so that all those within it are supported.