Sunday, February 1, 2015

Moles, Voles, and Bluebirds

One of my favorite proverbs is, “Where no oxen are the stall is clean, but much increase is by the strength of an ox,” Proverbs 14:4. Some folks are so focused on neatness, on everything being in its own place, on there not being a speck of dust, on having absolutely no disorder, on nothing going awry – that there is no room for growth, no room for failure, no room for learning, no room for misunderstanding, no room for unpredictability.

It would be nice to have a stall, a barn, a barnyard, without the mess that oxen produce; but of course that would mean that there’d be no oxen to produce the mess that must be shoveled and therefore no oxen to plow the fields; and with no plowed fields there’d be no sown seed and without sown seed there’d be no harvest and without a harvest there would be no food and without food there would be no life and without life it wouldn’t make any difference whether the stall was clean or not.

Could it be that there are some churches in which everything is in its place, but in which life is hard to discern? Are there homes in which one is afraid to set foot, lest one inadvertently disturbs the order of the cosmos by introducing a speck of dust or by moving a chair leg out of its appointed place? This is not an argument for chaos, it’s an argument for life – life can be messy; life does require shovels.

We love birds, and we especially love bluebirds. We are blessed to have bluebirds around our home, when we look out our windows we see bluebirds in our front and side yards. Bluebirds eat insects, they will eat seeds, but they prefer insects and grubs.

We also love to garden, and we appreciate a nice-looking lawn, and therein lies the tension of Proverbs 14:4; bluebirds love grubs; grubs live in the ground; moles love grubs and voles love plants…voles use the tunnels moles create; if you eliminate grubs you generally give moles no reason to undermine your lawn, if you don’t have moles then the voles have no tunnels to use to harm your plants – but to eliminate grubs (at least quickly) you need to use pesticides and pesticides can harm bluebirds and we don’t want to harm bluebirds.

What to do? We can have a nice looking lawn without mole tunnels by using pesticides (which will harm bluebirds) to kill grubs; or we can have a lawn with annoying tunnels and enjoy bluebirds.  We have chosen the bluebirds.

“Where no grubs are the lawn is clean; but many bluebirds abound when grubs are found.”