Thunder and birdsong

Cardinal_in_the_RainBooming thunder woke me this morning, punctuated by sharp cracks and the rapid-firing report of driving rain. It seemed a fitting follow-up to the previous day’s explosions at the Boston Marathon.

In the middle of nature’s protest, I heard something else. Sheltered by a canopy of budding leaves, a cardinal sat in the tree outside my bedroom window and sang its song. In a thunderstorm. In the dark. How beautiful and unexpected.

My mind went to an anecdote I had heard the prior evening. Fred Rogers, that equanimous purveyor of patience and good manners from my childhood, once said (verified by

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

I find that so comforting–and true. Look at any tragedy and you will find people rushing to help. Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, and regular Joes (or Janes, if you prefer) move in and make things happen.  As others rush from the scene in justifiable horror, the helpers rush to it. They offer safety, medical attention, and most of all comfort. And they far outnumber the bad guys.

Let’s get this straight. The tragedy in Boston sucks. It’s horrific, terrifying, and inexcusable. It reminds us that evil pulsates throughout the world, and it will rear its head in places where it is least welcome. We must figure out who did it, hold those people accountable, and do our best to protect against it happening again.

But in the aftermath, let’s give the attention to the good. Let’s celebrate the acts of selflessness, the kindness, and the heroism that become equally apparent in these times. Let’s listen for the birdsong in the thunderstorm.

Those are the stories that deserve the spotlight.

10 thoughts on “Thunder and birdsong

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  1. Not my words (credit listed below), but definitely my sentiments: You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

    But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

    So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

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  2. Amen… affirmation of all that you said. And I must interject that my Grandma always said when we saw a Cardinal it meant the Holy Spirit was present. That’s still comforts me when I see them…and say Amen.

  3. It’s grey and rainy here today, and I was feeling a bit grey myself, in light of recent events. This helped so much! Love your perspective as always, Tammy 🙂

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