“My daughter,” Jesus said, “your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of your affliction.” ~ Mark 5:34
Ever wonder where Chimney Swifts lived before there were chimneys? Some species are so accustomed to living with humans that we added “house” to their names like House Wrens, House Finches, and House Sparrows (who are weaver finches, not sparrows by the way). There is no question that we humans have changed and are constantly changing the environment around us. The real questions to ask are whether we are helping or hurting. On the surface, we seemed to have helped some species by creating opportunities that didn’t previously exist. We replaced the relatively uncommon standing hollow tree with a plethora of artificial ones, much to the joy of Chimney Swift colonies. Out of curiosity and compassion, we have manufactured housing that is literally for the birds who nest in cavities, mounting sometimes practical (though more often simply decorative) bird houses.
On the other hand, when a tree is diseased and begins its decline toward returning its nutrients to the earth, we are quick to cut it down, denying not only those nutrients to the soil where they belong, but also food and housing opportunities for other species. A standing dead or dying tree provides a smorgasbord to insectivores like woodpeckers, nuthatches, and creepers. As branches drop, leaving holes in the trunk, those cavities provide the perfect, expected location for everything from wrens to owls to move in. Cutting down a dying tree is a “cure” for a perceived problem, allowing it to stand is an act of “healing.” When we read about Jesus’ healing miracles, they are really cures, with one notable exception, his resurrection. We don’t quite know what his resurrected body looked like (remember that Mary didn’t recognize him at first), but we do know that it retained the marks of his death, his wounded side and hands. A cure for death would be no death, healing death looks like resurrection. Resurrection embraces death as necessary, and definitely not the end.
Prayer: Great physician, heal us, even if there is no cure. Amen.