Is Prayer “For The Birds?”

Are the headlines about the pandemic, the economy, or politics making your anxiety level rise? A contemplative practice called the prayer of gratitude can help to relieve your anxiety.  The Medieval German mystic Meister Eckhart said, “if the only prayer we ever say in our lives is “thank you” that will be enough.” Let me explain how prayer can work, and how it can be for and with the birds!

A morning ritual I started at the beginning of the pandemic is to check in on my feathered friends at the Cornell Live Bird Cams while I sip my coffee.  When I look at the bird cams, I am thankful that they are quietly carrying on with their bird business…even though many things in the world seem to be out of control.  I give thanks for these birds.  Then I give thanks for big and small things in my life.

This time of reflection and prayer awakens such serenity in me.  I do pray with my eyes open, because I don’t want to miss any new birds.  A bird nerd confession – I have taken screen shots of the different species I have seen and keep them in a folder.


It is so exciting to see (and hear) the different species of birds at each feeder.  The Sapsucker Woods feeder lets me see birds such as Red-Winged Blackbirds and Baltimore Orioles that I remember from my childhood growing up in the Midwest.  In the warmer months, the West Texas feeders feature a myriad of iridescent, magical hummingbirds.  My favorite feeders to check each day though are the Panama Fruit Feeders.  The spectacular colors of the Rufous Motmot or the Tanager species’ kaleidoscope of colors never cease to amaze me.

I enjoy getting rare glimpses of crafty squirrels, or caretakers replenishing seeds, suet, and fruit.  Last month the Ontario feeder was decorated with a cute snowman and Christmas tree.   It is also interesting to observe weather changes at the feeders: precipitation in the rainforest, autumn leaves flashing and floating down, thick snowflakes falling while Canadian Geese honk on the lake.

I highly recommend this prayer of gratitude for, and with, the birds and have included some more grateful living resources for you below.  “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” -John Milton- Happy New Year!

Cornell Live Bird Cams – view here

A Network for Grateful Living – founded by Brother David (resources and practices for grateful living) – click here

Video – A Grateful Day with Brother David Steindl-Rast (inspiring message / beautiful footage)


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