If you’ve been to Saint John’s recently, you undoubtedly have noticed our front entrance has received a most unappreciated and smelly bird dropping paint job. A Friday afternoon power washing cleans most of it off but the same ugly pattern reappears on Sunday morning. At one of the most important weekends in the history of Saint John’s, we’ve got a bird dropping problem. We’ve been pondering what to do. How do we get rid of these birds?
Recently, we’ve discovered more about the source. It is not a group of birds. One very pretty, white chested, hawk-like animal with dark brown wing feathers that stands almost a yard tall, flies in as the sun is setting and then is gone before 6:30 in the morning. Late Wednesday afternoon, Jon Fry took some very detailed pictures of this bird-dropping-machine. He posted it on Facebook to see who could name it. We then talked about non-lethal ways to remove it, like shooting off fireworks, cutting down the tree (or just the top third), or shooting water at it. That was Wednesday night.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, we awoke on Thursday morning with good and bad news. The good news first: we found out what it is, an Osprey hawk. The bad news – it is a “sensitive species” and is protected. These endangered birds have a zone of protection so that we cannot remove the branch, scare it away, or, as we have joked, even think a negative thought about it. Since we were here first and for some reason this Osprey decided to land here, we don’t need to change our operation, but we can’t scare it away, either.
My mom had a coffee mug that read, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you let the turkeys get you down.” The Saint John’s mascot is an eagle and our song is, “On Eagles’ Wings.” Perhaps the easiest thing would be to change our mascot to the protected Osprey. But, in all seriousness, this is a classic example of life. During an important time in the history of the church and school, we get pooped on. And, we find out, there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
Or is there.
We can let the turkeys get us down, or we can embrace this bird-gift. Our Head of School helped change my thinking. He has talked to the students about how special we are to have this endangered bird finding refuge at Saint John’s. Ironically, it mirrored my Annual Meeting address – Saint John’s is a refuge for many who have been turned away from other churches or faith traditions. We are a center of healing and it shows through what we do in our shared ministry.
Apparently that center of healing applies to God’s animals, too. I guess that is not such bad news after all.