Finding God in the Birds

Finding God in All Things

Growing up in Inner City Los Angeles, I hadn’t really seen a bird that wasn’t a pigeon unless I went to the beach. You know what they call pigeons in East L.A.? Flying rats.

The only other experience I had with birds was the Alfred Hitchcock movie by the same name. One of the local networks would show the film on television each year around Halloween. So yes, I was never what you might call endeared to birds.

Twelve years ago, my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where on any given afternoon we could find a dozen different kinds of birds hanging out in our yard. We were surprised to find hummingbirds stopping in for nectar from our flowers. Flocks of starlings landed in our yard to search for bugs and then left en masse without notice. We’d even see a bald eagle now and then, soaring high above Lake Washington, located not far from our home. Yet the most interesting was the never-ending drama between the crows and the American robin couple guarding their new nest.

My husband would holler into the house from his yardwork. “It’s back on!”—as if it were a soap opera on the television. I’d take two cups of coffee out to the deck, and we’d watch the story unfold. Up to this point, the robin couple had been able to defend their nest. But that day, the crows ganged up on them, separating them, leaving the nest unguarded. A crow swooped in, stealing an egg and dramatically eating it atop our neighbor’s roof. The robins squawked loudly on the telephone wires overhead.

“It sounds like crying,” I said with tears in my eyes.

My husband was more pragmatic. “That’s why they’re called a murder of crows,” he said, grabbing his shears and returning to work.

I stayed, sipping my coffee when the phrase, “Are not you more important than they?” popped into my head. I knew exactly where it was from, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, when he talked about dependence on God: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matthew 6:26–27)

I had anxiety dreams the night before. The ones where I must quickly pack a bag but keep forgetting what I need to take with me. Or I’m driving, only to discover my brakes don’t work. I’d been busy with our move, and I had been worrying.

But in that moment, I knew the robins would be ok. God cares for them.

I knew I’d be ok too. I didn’t need to worry. It wouldn’t make a difference to worry. I needed the reminder to depend on God.

I looked up to see one of the robins, its beak full of dried grass. They were rebuilding their nest.

And so would I.


Today in 31 Days with St. Ignatius, read The Triangulation of Desire by Tim Muldoon. Follow along every day this month here and on social media with #31DayswithIgnatius.

About Shemaiah Gonzalez 3 Articles
Shemaiah Gonzalez is a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in English Literature and a M.A. in Intercultural Ministry. She thrives on moments where storytelling, art, and faith collide. Published on Busted Halo and America Magazine among others, she is obsessed with being well-rounded as she jumps from Victorian lit to Kendrick Lamar, from the homeless shelter to the cocktail party. A Los Angeles native, she now lives in Seattle with her husband and their two sons.

13 Comments on Finding God in the Birds

  1. Thank you, Shemaiah! Lovely reflection and reminder how this incredible world speaks to our souls if we only tune in. God is indeed in all things. Wish I was paying more attention.

  2. Sweet story. We have little black-headed birds that come every year to the same nest. I worry for them because of the cats. Baby birds fly to the ground so yes I do worry, but as you say God provides. Needless to say God as put me in the yard several times when I am able to “rescue” a baby bird from and evil cat!

  3. I watch the birds in my garden also. I know what Jesus said about Him knowing about even a bird falling from the the sky etc etc. HOWEVER, if I had been there with you, I Know I would have tried my best to help the robins defend their unborn babies from those blasted crows! Faith goes with GOOD WORKS! A Murder of Crows is right. I have seen them taking the eyes from new-born lambs and tear their tongues out. They remind me of evil, yet I suppose it is all part of nature’s food chain. Some creatures can do with a little help, just as some people need it too..A.M.D.G.

  4. I also live in the Pacific Northwest. We have had birdfeeders in our backyard for years and I never tire of watching the different varieties of birds and their activities throughout the year. As I see them flying past my window and sitting in the bushes and on the fence when I am praying in the morning the quote from Matthew often comes to mind, and helps me realize God’s personal love for me.

  5. I put a wooden box on the upper shelve in the cove by my front door. We have mourning doves come and lay their eggs. Only two at a time. This last time only one egg made it. Baby flew away quickly. Three days later a new box and their they were the happy mom and dad birds back again. Last year we had 7 babies and this year we have had 3 so far. I look at these birds as my gift from God. He allows me to be a helping hand of his.

  6. Ah, my favorite passage in the bible. It is a constant reminder that I need to always trust that God has my back and that brings me peace that only God can give.

  7. Thanks for your reflection. We all could take a page from St. Francis and observe and contemplate God in nature,. I too am a type A worrier and lean on Jesus’s wisdom as articulated in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew’s version ends with the following (verse 34) which is equally impactful as the verses you quoted, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” God bless.

  8. Well written beautiful article. Thank you for the insight. Old people have time for birds it seems. But my mother shared her love for them with me and her love of flowers. It’s good you slowed down. Share these moments with your children or tell them about them.

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