The Flicker is back. Aarggggh! I am prevented by the law, popular opinion, my place in the community, God and Dianna from buying an air rifle, so it’s on to plan B. Rocks. For those who have followed the flicker saga you know that this spring we repaired the holes, cleaned out the nest and took away any place where it could perch to peck. Ha! It’s clinging to a chimney brick and taking pecking shots at the siding. Bolder than ever, it just sits there staring at me when I come out to yell at it. However, I’ve got pretty good with a small supply of pebbles and a decent right arm. Haven’t actually hit it yet, but come close enough to make it fly off to a tree in another yard where it waits for me to go back inside. I’m trying to train the dogs to go out and bark at it but they seem disinterested. Unless it’s a squirrel, Riley could care less. Andy only barks at imaginary ax murderers and Riley. I’m sure there is a theological lesson in here somewhere that explains All Saints Sunday and the doctrine of transubstantiation, but I haven’t found it yet.
There are more than a few, in fact way too many, Christians who view the church as a great and magnificent fortified city, the very seat of God, in words so much like the psalmist who wrote:
count its towers,
13 consider well its ramparts;
go through its citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide forever.
What a magnificent sight, a site so impressive, says the psalmist that the kings of the earth were scared to death when they assembled around it. But consider also that it’s a defensive site designed to keep the bad guys out and provide a safe haven for the authorized good guys, be impervious to the inevitable attack, and a sign of invincible domination over all others. Wow!
The odd thing is that God never seemed to care much for symbols like that. The great prophets who preached within the walls generally preached against the city, even as they sometimes lauded the temple that lay within. Time and again the city was destroyed and the temple ravaged. Consider that most of Jesus’ ministry was out in the open air of Galilee, and that even when in Jerusalem he appeared to be more comfortable sleeping under a tree in Gethsemane or maybe at a friends house in Bethany. Although his trial was within the city, his crucifixion, burial and resurrection were outside the walls.
With that thought in mind, look at what God says about his city through the prophet Isaiah as recorded in the 60th chapter. It is full of light, God’s glory shines over and through it, nations and kings stream to it, there is no violence in it, no destruction anywhere around it, sun and moon are not needed because God provides the light, and its gates are never shut. No doubt laughing all the time, he gave Ezekiel explicit directions for its blueprint with dimensions that make no sense in the human way of measuring. What a difference! Think of that as the image we Christians should have for the church.
With that image in mind we no longer need fear any adversary, we can dare to be open to all with gates that are never shut, we can be repositories of God’s eternal light remembering that even a flickering light in a broken pot is stronger than the darkest dark. It’s an image that applies in part to the buildings that serve the purposes of the church, but even more to the church as the gathered saints who are gathered not to be separated from the world but to be lights in the world.
For me, that’s an icon worthy of adoration.
It’s time to take on The Flicker again. Some readers may need to be reminded of a number of posts chronicling my battle with the persistent flicker who invaded my house late last summer, pecked a hole high up in the exterior wall, and took up winter residence therein. Steve the contractor came over this week to work out some plans for better insulation, and while he was at it also took on the repair of the flicker hole, a nest of starlings inside a vent, and some miscellaneous issues up on the roof. What he found in the garage attic was a flicker nest the size of a dog bed. That bird had made him/herself a four star Ritz Carlton hideaway, now occupied by more starlings on a sublet. A little cleaning, a little patching, a little carpentry to take away any place to perch and peck, and I can confidently assert that, as of this evening, we have no more flicker and/or starling nests in our house. I can start removing their outside wall decorations soon. Whether it stays that way is another question altogether. Tomorrow the insulation people show up to do whatever it is that they do, which has nothing to do with flickers or starlings, but it’s supposed to keep us warmer in winter, cooler in summer and save on utility bills. They way I figure it, the flicker will just consider this a Ritz Carlton renovation designed especially for him/her.
Regular readers will recall several posts about my flicker – the flicker that pecked a large hole in the side of my house and took up winter residency. Apparently he/she is now intent on creating a duplex, because he/she is busy working on another flicker sized hole. Now I’m a peaceable man and not prone to violence, but I’m seriously thinking of buying an air rifle to aid in, how shall I say it, serving a rather abrupt eviction notice. As Rachel Maddow says, I need to be talked down on this.
That flicker (see previous post) has now created a place of rest for her/himself in the side of my house about twenty feet up under the eaves and out of my reach. My wife considers him/her a blessed Christmas guest. She spelled it wrong; it’s pest. I wonder what the temple priests thought when the psalmist waxed poetic about the sparrow and swallow?
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. (Psalm 84.3)
The next line is: “Happy are those who live in your house ever singing your praise.” Is RAT-A-TAT-TAT a form of singing God’s praise? I’ve got a feathered Gene Krupa living here. Couldn’t I have Benny Goodman? Sorry kids – look’em up. Oh well, might as well get used to it, and thanks be to God for strange things in my life.
It’s Advent, and I am trying to be repentant of my sins and contemplative in my spiritual life. It’s nearing Christmas and I am trying to be joyful in all things. But I am being tormented by a flicker. My spouse, who has her own blog, thinks this is very funny and wrote about it not long ago with me, of course, being the bad guy picking on one of God’s cherished creatures. But I tell you this flicker is more than intentional about picking on my house out of all houses in the neighborhood, and is more than intentional about knowing when I’m home trying to be repentant and contemplative, and knows exactly what part of the house to hammer away on where he/she can get the biggest bang for the peck. I’ve gone outside to have marginally civil conversations with him/her, and all she/he does is move to a nearby branch and scream at me until I go back inside. Devious thoughts have entered my mind about possible solutions but each would require substantial penance later on, and word has it that sins committed with malice aforethought are not easily forgiven. So there you are, me and my flicker, and that’s the thought for the day.