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From Away



Now after [the magi] had left, an angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” ~Matthew 2:13


Who doesn’t love Mute Swans? The other waterfowl on the pond that these invasive species nest in for one. There are swans native to North America, but Mute Swans are not among them. So ornithologists are inclined to agree with the native ducks pushed out of their breeding grounds that these foreign birds are not welcome. While the raucous Canada Geese are generally more disliked because of their noise, mess, and aggression, despite their name, they belong here, though perhaps in lower numbers. Unsurprisingly, we only have ourselves to blame for the increasing numbers of each species. Our love of lawns, parks, golf courses, and waterfront access in particular have encourage migratory geese to spend the winter in areas where they didn’t historically. On the other hand, Mute Swans wouldn’t even be in North America if we didn’t bring them here to be function as decorations on ponds in parks and fancy estates. Clipping their wings keeps them rooted to the location, but feathers grow, and when they do, the birds fly off.


These birds from away are not going to go away, but there are ways to limit the increase of the population. Killing birds is not a palatable plan, but preventing them from reproducing has been attempted in multiple ways. Simply removing the eggs or destroying nests was unsuccessful since the birds just start over. Disrupting nesting multiple times per pair during the breeding season just isn’t practical. The better plan is to fool them into incubating eggs that will not hatch. This can be achieved by addling the eggs: giving the egg a good shake will scramble the inside in a way to prevent it from hatching.


Herod had a reverse issue with foreigners. He heard a message from the magi, astrologers from the east, that there was a king newly born. Rightly hearing that as a threat to his power, he exerted what power he had in a literal overkill. Like destroying eggs and nests, it didn’t work. Instead, he sent the holy family away as refugees. No doubt in the process, he created fear, anger, and unrest, that is, the very things that Jesus would show us how to overcome. In an ironic twist, the savior had to return from away to conquer not through violence, but through patience and love. Similar to the swans, who in the end are going nowhere now that they are established, the more successful way to captivate our attention is through beauty.



Prayer: Invasive Spirit from away, captivate us with your beauty that we may transform the places where we live with love. Amen.


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