My backyard has several apple trees, and watching out my window here’s what I observed: wild turkeys. They gathered uphill from my apple trees, obviously discussing what they should do. Finally, they tucked their legs and wings in, and slid down the hill to my apple trees. It looked like they were having fun - like kids sliding down the snowy hill. Then, one of them flew up into an apple tree, and began to shake and flap its wings. Apples fell. Turkeys ate. I could wax poetic and say the sun came out and the cold eased - but it just seemed that way because it was so much fun to watch. Turkeys. Helping each other. Who knew? Not only that, but it really looked like they were having fun in the snow.
Maybe they aren’t such turkeys after all ?
After watching them I began thinking of the community we live in. After the Tropical Storm Irene flood, we watched “amazing” happen, as neighbors and visitors reached out to each other. People checked on each other. Those taking shelter at the high school were fed and provided with help and comfort. Our health care team was there. People brought supplies for the little ones. The fire department and the police and all our EMTs did extra duty. The Vermont National Guard was there, too. Then, during the cleanup, the Red Cross brought food for all who were working. Rotary and the Lions club and other groups did a lot of the physical work—rebuilding stairways, bridges and helping shovel mud out of first floors. You know. It seems there wasn’t a single person who didn’t help someone, somewhere. There wasn’t one of us turkeys who didn’t fly up in the apple tree and shake down apples for those who were in need. And connections were made between and among us. Friendships were strengthened. There was the joy of knowing none of us was helpless - we could each do something.
In the scriptures, in the Hebrew Bible, we learn the rule that God gave farmers to be sure to leave some grain in the fields for those in need, and the priests to be sure those in need received food from sacrifices. In the New Testament Jesus tells us that those who offer even water to those in need are blessed...and he taught about generosity. There are times in our lives together that we truly live generously. Just like the winter turkeys, we know how to help each other.
In this community, that sense of generosity exists most of the time – our volunteer fire department and EMTs, Wilmington Works, service clubs, churches, and just plain neighbors. I wonder if we learned from the turkeys or if they learned from us ? Or if that generosity of heart is just part of our being that is in the image of God. Aren’t you glad you live here? Are there other ways we haven’t thought of that we can help? In this winter weather there are funds to help with the oil bill, people who stack wood, people who shovel snow. Let’s meet the challenge to keep our eyes and hearts open so that help is offered when and where it is needed. Let’s live as a blessing to our neighbors. Let’s learn what those turkeys have learned—we’re all better off when we look after each other.
You are invited to join a close community each Sabbath/Sunday, to hear the stories of the history of those who are learning to live generously at places of worship where we are reminded of generosity and of the one who calls us to care for each other.
Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey is pastor at the Halifax Union Society.