“Hurry up or we’ll be late,” I tell my spouse. “I still have to look for a parking space.”
“I’ll be with you in a minute.” That classic understatement. “Why don’t you take Kitkat outside first?”
As soon as I open the front door, our pet cat dashes out to shoo away the birds and squirrels from the front lawn. Kitkat screeches to a halt and slowly walks back to me. For a moment I worried that Kitkat would harm a bird or be harmed by a squirrel’s sharp claws in case the squirrel fought back.
“Are you done yet?”
“Stop worrying,” she says from inside the room.
She’s right. There are days I feel like Robert Heilbroner’s Atlas grimly taking the weight of the world on his shoulders, notwithstanding my battered copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. So I pause and look out the window. Summer is almost over, so I won’t be constantly guarding Kitkat from the squirrels and the birds. In a couple of months it will be Fall. And then Winter. Squirrels will be limiting their outdoor activities and will be mostly underground and in hollowed trees. Most of the birds will be migrating South while those remaining will be looking for more wooded areas until Spring.
Last year, a couple of robin birds built a nest at the pine tree near my kitchen window. For two consecutive seasons I watched them build the nest, take care of their eggs until the latter became nestlings and were ready to fly. One time a brisk west wind blew the nest off balance until it toppled precariously on its side. I had to intervene by placing a tree branch under the nest to reinforce it. The nest was about seven feet from the ground, so I used a portable ladder to reach it.
The birds became part of my family so much so that during rainy days, I had to cut leafy tree branches to serve as canopy from the rain. But it was not necessary because to my amazement the mother robin would spread its wings to cover and protect her young.
And yet I worried how they could survive the squirrels who might snatch their eggs. I worried over the stray cats who might climb the tree, looking for food.
Often I would also place blueberries on the bushes under the tree so that the robins would not have to travel far from the nest to find food. I was their “guardian angel” for two years. They’d leave for a while, secure in their state that when they returned to nest I would be there to attend to them.
This year, however, they did not come back.
“Get inside now, Kitkat,” my wife says, all ready to go.
“Why didn’t the robins come back?” I ask her.
“You always worry, Manny! You worry about where to park. You worry about the traffic. You worry about what we’re going to eat later. You worry about tomorrow.” In one ear, out the other.
She went on, as we drove to church: “You worried about traveling and getting sick in the Philippines. With God’s help, didn’t you have a great time? Let God--and the synchronicities will follow.”
I thought of my pet cat and the squirrels and the robins outside my window.
We arrived on time. There was no traffic. There were a lot of parking spaces available.
Speaking of synchronicities, the Pastor must have read my mind:
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’.”
“For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things.”
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
And then it struck me: I was being made an instrument of God when I helped the robins. The way I helped them was no different from the way God helps us, even if we don’t realize it. The robin did not know her nest was falling because I fixed it. I was anonymous. Sometimes the most unexpected people appear from nowhere to help us in times of need. Synchronicities abound. They are the agencies of God helping us, albeit anonymously, in spite of ourselves.
As soon as we step out of the church my mind is in Naga and the Fluvial Procession this Saturday. In my early childhood, we did not have much, but somehow God always provided food on the table for our guests. I don’t know how my parents and grandparents did it. They just did their best and God did the rest. Expected and unexpected help came at the right time. I am sure this is happening to thousands of devotees today who have put God first, because they know deep in their hearts that if they did that, “all good things will be added unto us.”
“How about attending service at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan next week?” I ask my wife as we drive home.
“Parking is going to be difficult on Fifth Avenue,” she tells me.
“Don’t worry about that,” I assure her, my eyes on the road.