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That's all you have to do

Green bird bath atop a wooden post in a garden
Bird bath with floating nasturtium flower at Evergreen.

We have three bird baths at Evergreen. They’re not ornate, expensive, or designed by lauded sculptors. They’re simple, shallow bowls placed above rough-hewn tree stumps. But they do the job they were created for. They give water to birds.

Sometimes I envy the bird baths. I look through the kitchen window and view all three as they sit silent and still in their appointed places within the garden, the water they hold reflecting whatever the sky shows them. They’re an open invitation to passing birds to sit and sip or take a refreshing plunge. I envy them because they only have one thing to do — give water to birds — whereas I have hundreds. I feel pulled in a thousand directions, stretched too thin over countless life demands. I long to be a bird bath with only one thing to do.

Then it dawns on me, in the flash of a kingfisher’s blue wings as it scatters water diamonds in summer air, that everything in the known universe — which includes me — is doing only one thing. And that one thing is giving.

The first cells that formed me were giving of themselves to me. As I swelled in my mother’s womb, she gave me nutrients and I gave her a new shape. When I was born the earth gave itself for my support and I gave the night sky something new to observe. The houses I’ve lived in gave me shelter while I gave myself to growing up. Some of those houses have crumbled to dust, giving themselves back to source, while I keep giving in myriad ways until I too will be dust.

When I change the concept of myself from someone who is pulled in a thousand directions, to someone who is a giver, everything — absolutely everything — changes.

As I watch a crow commandeer the white bird bath, I mull over this new way of considering life.

We are always giving. We just complicate it with labels like duties or tasks or responsibilities.

Everything that exists is a process of giving. Everything is an offering to existence. Everything is a lesson in love.

The simple curved bodies of the three bird baths remind me of cupped hands holding and offering what is needed. They express an attitude of giving. They sum up the purpose of my life.

I don’t have hundreds of things to do. I’m not pulled in a thousand directions or stretched too thin over countless life demands.

I have only one thing to do.

And so do you.


With love, Marlane

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