Of Birdwatching and Bible Studies

I had the chance to join our “Caring for Creation” Christian Studies class on a field trip last week, as some knowledgeable volunteers from the Victoria Natural History Society led small groups of students on a birding expedition around Swan Lake. It was delightful to take the time to truly notice the activity all around us that we could have missed so easily. It is comparatively easy to notice an eagle soaring overhead, but catching a glimpse of the Golden-crowned Kinglet takes patience and practice. Two ingredients were key to this experience: slowing down to actually pay attention to the small stuff, and listening to our guide along the way.

As the students and I walked observantly around the lake, I reflected on the importance for all of us to slow down and take time to see deeply. This is equally true – or, perhaps especially true – when it comes to our faith. During this Fall’s small group chapel options, one of the Bible Studies that is being offered is called “Learning to Study.” Its goal is to help students develop the daily habit of spending time reading, reflecting and praying. People often focus on the “spiritual high” experiences of camp or youth rallies (those soaring eagles), but consistent growth in our faith requires the daily practices of the Christian life. When we engage in these practices – when we slow down, pay attention, and listen to the Spirit’s guidance – we start to notice God’s active work in the world all around us. We pay attention to the small stuff we may have otherwise totally missed.

I am so thankful for teaching staff who ensure that our students have the opportunity to learn this through experience – be it birding or Bible study. And, in case you are interested, here is a list of the birds our small group noted 🙂

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Northern Flicker
House Finch
Dark-eyed Junco
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Common Raven
American Robin
Bewick’s Wren
Anna’s Hummingbird
Eurasian-collared Dove
Glaucous-winged Gull
American Coot
Great Blue Heron
Brandt’s Cormorant
Ruddy Duck
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Canada Goose
Cackling Goose

November 3, 2016