My husband Bill and I have begun the long, arduous process of getting our flower beds ready for summer.
It used to be one of my favorite things to do. I loved working in the garden. I loved the dirt, loved selecting and buying the flowers and vegetables, loved the way everything looked when it was freshly planted and mulched.
Now, not so much.
Now, gardening seems like a lot of work. I can think of five or six things right off the top of my head that I would rather be doing on a warm sunny May morning. Nevertheless…
I was in our backyard yesterday, edging and mulching a flower bed when I heard him again. The oriole.
He was singing his song, hoping to entice a female oriole to be his mate.
Oriole males sing in a loud repetitive warble. You can’t miss them.
This guy has been singing his heart out for the past week or so. At first, I found it touching, listening to him call over and over again, hoping to lure in a female with his song. He never gave up.
As days passed without a sign of a female oriole in the area, I thought I noticed a hint of desperation creeping into his voice. “Isn’t there a partner somewhere out there for me? Please?” I pictured him saying. I may have been anthropomorphizing.
Then yesterday, I heard it. It was faint, coming from far away, but there was no doubt about it. Another oriole was singing, answering the little guy’s call.
This other oriole is not a female, it’s another male. Female orioles do not call for a mate. They select the call they wish to answer.
The second oriole call, however, was an excellent sign for “my” oriole.
You see, when orioles advertise for a mate, they use the same strategy fast food restaurant chains employ when they wish to determine a new restaurant location.
You might think that the best place for a new hamburger joint would be across town from an established one, but you would be wrong. The best place to put a new hamburger joint is right next to the old one.
That way, when people are deciding where to buy a hamburger, you have a 50% chance of getting their business. Maybe more than 50% if your burgers (or your advertising) are better.
This second male oriole calling from across the way is good news for the first oriole. Not only are there now twice as many calls broadcasted out to reach females but “my” oriole, because he was in the area first, has the best location.
He is literally sitting smack dab in the middle of oriole heaven – a mulberry tree. Orioles love fruit of any kind, and mulberries ripen just about the time baby orioles hatch. A perfect place to build a nest.
I am now feeling much more hopeful about his chances of finding a mate. As my husband says, “A lid for every pot.“
I am learning (slowly) to be patient.
It takes a certain amount of patience, confidence, and hope to allow life to play out the way it will.
There have been many times when I want something to happen now, if not sooner, but learning acceptance has increased my level of contentment.
Letting go of attachments is one of the principal tenets of Buddhism. Worry is the consequence of desperate clinging to a desired outcome. Suffering is the result of unhealthy attachments. How can we learn to loosen our grip? Through meditation.
Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, teaches the same thing: ” Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.“
He tells us that the way to be more joyful, to have hope is to be more patient. How can we be more patient? Through prayer.
I have read books about meditation and thought about the verse from Romans many times before, but it took the hope, persistence, and joy of the oriole’s never-ending call to bring it home to me: God holds each one of us in his hands.
The oriole, through his search for love, helped me in my search.
I am now keeping a sharp eye out for female orioles. Because they are leaf-colored, they can be hard to spot.
I have hope, however. I have patience.
And I can pray.
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