An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

I love this time of year when spring is turning into summer, when my squash plants are producing and the tomatoes are promising, when mosquitoes have yet to emerge full force. The massive greenness of the season and the delightful counterpoint of bright flowers here and there seem to shout of life.

Life and growth, however, are not the only options. Earlier this week, on the mat outside the half-windowed back door leading from our garage, I found a faded redbird with its feet in the air. I don’t know how it died, but I can imagine. Cardinals can be quite territorial. More than once, I’ve observed a red flash flying headlong into a window, seeing its reflection and assuming an intruder had invaded its space. At times, I’ve watched a redbird crash into the same window again and again, sometimes leaving smudges of blood, occasionally knocking itself senseless. I wondered if that’s what this little bundle of feathers had done — if it had simply fought itself to the the death.

I couldn’t help but reflect that misunderstanding, internal conflict, and fatal infighting are not unique to redbirds. When the people who make up a nation or a church begin to perceive their neighbors as enemies, the resultant discord can lead to an untimely demise. Even individual persons, struggling with inner demons or competing desires, can find their spirits being gradually strangled, gasping for air.

It doesn’t have to be that way. One way or another, peace is possible. May the vitality and potential of this season inspire us all to seek understanding, and to choose life.

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