Among my favorite birds, these lovely juncos are the least spectacular at first glance. They don't have a shimmering plumage like the broad-tailed hummingbird. They don't have the charming acrobatics of the little chickadee. As I have gotten to know them, though, I have fallen in love with their little industrious personalities. They are often the first to find food and water by diligently searching in places where other birds don't always deign to look. If I go on a walk nearby our home, I'm sure to see a junco pecking away at the ground. They are less aggressive birds but when it matters, I have seen them defend themselves.
In addition, Juncos have the special trait of only arriving here in Utah once the weather has cooled for a while, and leaving before it warms back up. I know I can count on these cold-weather birds to keep us company once hummingbirds have left for the season. For this reason, I think of them as our special Christmas birds.
I also can't help thinking about humans and how they relate to juncos. Some of us are bright parakeets, some of us are majestic hawks, some of us are the unassuming junco, and on and on. No matter our backgrounds, we each come with our own set of talents and ways we can contribute to the world around us.
Marvin J. Ashton said, "It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given. We must remember that each of us is made in the image of God, that there are no unimportant persons. Everyone matters to God and to his fellowmen."
Ashton later adds, "Taken at random, let me mention a few gifts that are not always evident or noteworthy but that are very important. Among these may be your gifts—gifts not so evident but nevertheless real and valuable.
Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer ... We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us."
During this beautiful season of hope and joy, I'm grateful for you and the gifts you have already shared with me. I can't wait to continue to grow with you and see how we can uncover our gifts in ways that make the world around us a better place.