Blessed to Be a Blessing


I will make of you a great people. I will bless you and make your name so great that it will be used in blessings. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you. And all the people on the face of the earth will be blessed through you. ~ Genesis 12:2-3

Like all woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are blessed with unique tools and skills. They have stiff tail feathers that acts like a third foot to form a tripod while clinging to a tree trunk. They have a special cushioning at the base of their bills that creates a sort of shock-absorber that prevents them from concussing themselves when using their chisel-shaped bills to create holes in the tree. They have extra-long tongues that actually wrap up into the back of their skulls in order to retrieve food from inside the holes they create. In the case of sapsuckers, the purpose of that tongue and those holes is to, well, suck sap. Sapsuckers cleverly exploit the resources that trees offer by drilling a series of horizontal holes around a tree trunk, then leave. They later return to feast on the sap that flows from the holes and sometimes gobble up insects that are attracted to the sap and get stuck in it. No doubt, our human ancestors who figured out how to extract syrup from maples took note of how these birds did it.

Whether humans received this blessing from sapsuckers or not, there is one species that certainly has been blessed by the work of sapsuckers, and that would be hummingbirds. I was on a birding trip with some folks one time when we spied a sapsucker working a tree. One of the others on the trip mentioned that we should watch for a hummingbird, and sure enough, nearly immediately after the sapsucker left, a hummingbird arrived to sip from the well that the sapsucker had created.

If only humans could learn this lesson of abundance and sharing. Too often, we approach life with a scarcity mentality. Fear that there may not be enough to go around in the future leads to hoarding today. Often, we too are quick to see blessings as just for us and forget that in God’s economy, there is more than enough as long as we remember the core principle announced by God at the very birth of our faith. When God called Abraham, they explained why he was getting blessed: it was in order to be a blessing. The plan was to channel the abundance through a chosen people, who were then responsible to make sure everyone got their share.

Prayer: God of the sapsucker, God of the hummingbird, remind us of your abundance and our role in your economy. Bless us that we may be a blessing to all. Amen.

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