A couple of weeks ago my neighbor helped me hang a bird feeder right outside my sun room window. This is where I spend most of my day, and I was excited about getting such a close view of the birds. I pictured sparrows and finches—dainty little things with soft colors and timid tweets. And for the first two weeks, that’s what I got.
Until yesterday, when this big black ominous-looking bird with an iridescent blue head came swooping in, landing so forcefully on the feeder that it thumped loudly against the house. He sat there for a long time, laying claim to the suet, and when he flew away it was only to the nearby tree, where he perched most of the day.
He made me uneasy, although I’m not sure why. He’s just a bird, eating at a bird feeder. I got what I wanted, but it didn’t look like I’d expected.
This month the focus is on ASKING. My bird reminded me how easy it is to be dissatisfied when we get what we ask for. Making requests of the universe is a tricky game because we often don’t really know our true desires until we have an experience of them. Only then are we capable of comparison, and discernment.
Inayat Khan was a Sufi teacher who said:
I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to learn to solve. I asked for prosperity and God gave me a brain and brawn to work. I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome. I asked for love and God gave me people to help. I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities. I received nothing I wanted. I received everything I needed.
So what do we ask for?
I like the advice of Hans Christian King, a medium and spiritual teacher, who suggests these words: “Spirit, I would like the experience of ____.” (love, relationship, connection, beauty, etc.) By focusing on the end result or feeling, we are more open to receiving something far greater than we can even imagine.
Another favorite prayer of mine, even more general, comes from Alan Cohen:
“God, I’ve learned through sorrow. I’m ready to learn through joy.”
Asking for joy is always a choice. And so is catching sight of it when it shows up.