Spiritual Cowbirds

July 2009 163My attention was captured the other day by the sight of a small sparrow feeding an insect to a loudly squealing bird that was at least twice the size of the sparrow and of an entirely different species. A little research revealed that the larger bird was a baby cowbird. For the next few days, I watched as that little sparrow worked tirelessly to provide for the seemingly voracious appetite possessed by that baby cowbird. The cowbird followed the sparrow around wherever it went, screeching for food. After a while I began to be annoyed by the sight.

My annoyance was fed by the knowledge of the fact that cowbirds are parasites. The female cowbird does not build a nest but lays her egg in the nest of another bird. That is the extent of their parental activity. Sometimes they will even destroy existing eggs. The baby cowbird, when hatched, is typically larger than the babies of the host bird and will crowd them out of the nest and/or get the lion’s share of the food brought to the nest by the parent birds. I actually found myself talking to that cowbird on a couple occasions, telling it to “Go find your own food.” What’s more, I was hoping that Noelle might “get it” if it got within her reach!

Do you have a cowbird in your spiritual life? A habit, a motive, or an attitude or desire that you can’t seem to get away from?  One that is almost too big to handle and that noisily demands to be fed and which has supplanted purer aspects of the spiritual dimension of your life? Aren’t you tired of providing for its seemingly voracious appetite?

I don’t have to think for very long before the Spirit brings to my mind some of the cowbirds I have to deal with. How about you? It would be great if we had a “spiritual cat” to turn loose wouldn’t it? What’s your strategy for dealing with your cowbirds?