There is a story of a farmer who had hated birds all of his life. He saw them as a nuisance, eating the seeds he had planted, damaging his crops, and for years he had tried everything he knew to keep them out of his fields. And for many years he had been successful. No birds nested in or around his farmland.
Near the end of his life the farmer had a conversion experience. He no longer cared so much about the success of his crops; he no longer worried about costs and losses. And he regretted his decision to keep away the birds.
In fact, he wanted them to come, wanted them to be in his fields, take of his seeds, bring him company. Just as he had tried many techniques to keep them away, now he tried everything to get them to come to him; but no matter what the farmer did, the birds stayed away.
One day he told a trusted friend about his goal and how he was trying to make amends for his earlier treatment of the winged creatures and what he was doing to try and welcome them back. “I stand and wave for them when I see them. I try jumping up and down, flinging my arms about, but still they will not come.”
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“Well, no wonder they won’t come,” his friend replied. “You’re scaring them with all that flailing about; you’re keeping them away by working so hard to get them near. Just put your arms down. Just stand in the field and be patient. You don’t need to work so hard; just be still and wait; the birds will come to you.”
And so the farmer did. He stood quietly in the field, his arms at his side, his breathing calm, his body stilled, and his friend was right. One by one, the birds, no longer afraid of a wild dancing man in the field, arrived. And they came near to him and enjoyed his seeds and his hospitality. And the farmer was very happy.
Sometimes we flap and dance and do everything we think we need to do to bring love to us. We try to be something we’re not, try to act in ways we think will please others, buy gifts that we think will win them; but instead of bringing others to us, it seems as if we actually drive them away. Perhaps this winter season we can learn to stand still, to be ourselves, to listen to our own hearts. Perhaps, as darkness arrives sooner each day, we can learn how to be still, be present with ourselves and recognize that we are worthy of love exactly as we are.
Love, just like the farmer’s birds, is always there, and sometimes instead of trying to flag it down or wave it to us, we just need to stop and listen to the sounds of our own loneliness and our own authentic selves. Only then will true love come.
Lynne Hinton is a minister and author: www.lynnehinton.com.