This spring, I have enjoyed watching the birds come to our backyard birdfeeder. After a long winter, I refilled the feeder and within a day or two, enjoyed the sight of a chickadee, cardinal, juvenile blue jay, and a nuthatch. The latter likes to stand upside down to get his food. My feeder, a gift from my in-laws, is squirrel-proof. A squirrel trying to jump onto it from the nearby fence, if successful in getting there, will be unsuccessful in getting to the seeds, as the body weight of the squirrel closes down the feeder, and all the seeds are trapped within. But our squirrels do OK, because there are some seeds that fall on the ground, and so the squirrels glean the leftovers, enjoying a small share of the bounty, only from a different perspective than the birds.
Recently, I have noticed that the birds mostly seem to take their turns. A chickadee eats at the feeder, and a cardinal sits nearby, apparently just waiting until the chickadee leaves to take her turn. Then again, there is the blue jay, who recently swooped in and practically knocked the cardinal off her perch, dive-bombing her. But mostly the birds share. I like to think that the reason that they are willing to share is that the gift of the food is something that is plentiful. Yes, the feeder grows empty over time. But then it is refilled, again and again, and so the birds remain mostly in harmony.
In this Easter season, it strikes me that we share hope in the Resurrection with trust gained from our experience of the way that God has gifted us with many blessings over time. Again and again in my own past, when I have experienced emptiness, grief, or loss, God seems to find a way to come to those empty spots and to offer me new life. And so, I have faith in the plenitude and try to give to others in my life, out of that faith.
The Gospel authors show that Jesus’ gifts at the Resurrection—gifts of forgiveness, the remediation of sins, and the promise of new life—don’t stop with Jesus giving these gifts to the people with whom he reconnects. As Jesus has been generous with the disciples, so too, in turn, are the friends of Jesus generous with sharing the gifts they’ve received. Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to hold onto him, but to go out and spread the good news to others, which she gladly does. Jesus forgives the disciples in the upper room, reconciles with them, and encourages them to be forgiving too, and they become forgiving presences in the world. Thomas believes and then becomes a model of faith for others. Peter and Jesus reconnect on the beach, and Peter finds himself empowered to go on to lead the Church, to heal and to minister to others, and even eventually to be willing to die for his faith. Jesus’ Resurrection is not just a moment, then, but keeps on giving.
I wonder, as I watch the birds at a newly replenished feeder, about all the good gifts of Easter that each one of us enjoys. Do we even know and appreciate the magnitude of what we have been given at Easter? Do we trust that when we experience emptiness, we will be refilled? If we did, wouldn’t we also share what we have right now: share the Good News with others, share our gifts more hopefully, and be courageous agents of justice, healing, and forgiveness? Where are we like the blue jay who needs to assert and dominate? And where are we more willing to share what we have with others, because we know how graced we are—so far beyond what we deserve or have earned—in what God has given to us?
This Easter season, let’s take the time to be grateful for where we are fed and how God has gifted us with hope, faith, and love. Let’s then consider how we want to share those gifts—our talents, our kindness, our goods—with others and so continue our celebration of Easter.