Saw the first goldfinch of the season yesterday. Mid summer they (at least the males) are a glorious shade of bright yellow. This one didn’t have on his summer coat yet. In fact, I would have mistaken him for a sparrow had it not been for the bright streak of yellow, hidden under his tail feathers at the base of his back.
I’ll bet he didn’t even know it was there. I wonder if he even had any idea that the change had begun. Probably not even aware that soon he will be a brilliant golden glow. Nope. For now he is just the same as he has been, all winter long.
But I saw it. I saw the marking, the beginning of the beauty. And celebrated the first goldfinch and the coming of spring. Then I got to wondering about the beauty in us. And whether we see it, or whether it begins as just a mark, perhaps hidden under our tail feathers, that other people may notice, but not us. A patch of brilliance on our behinds, in a place we can’t see.
God would know that is the place to begin because otherwise we might get all pleased with ourselves. Go strutting about showing everyone that we were marked, we were selected, we were chosen to be beautiful. And, if we were some of the early ones, we might carry on like this for a while. Everyone else thinking they are less beautiful or not chosen or unmarked by the hand of beauty. And not caring much at all for us.
But, come late spring, probably just about the time we were admiring our full golden plumage in the mirror we would see our fellow goldfinches all strutting around in the brilliance we thought was reserved just for us. That would be a humbling moment. But only a moment because, before long…
those female goldfinches, in their shades of lemony green, are attracted by that beautiful yellow coat of feathers. And that strutting serves a purpose. Just as the bright yellow does. To attract, to court and to bind together. The hand of beauty does that. Plants beauty that is both wonderful to behold and useful for His purposes.
Funny, I had a Biology teacher in college, Dr. Wiseman, who pointed out something I will never forget. He said, “In all the animal species but one, the male is the most beautiful.”
I think he was quite well liked by the college co-eds. But his point was made. Males of the non-human species according to Dr. Wiseman are fashioned more beautifully. They sport the brighter colors so they will attract attention, not only of potential mates but also of potential predators and thus draw it away from the females of the species. So wise. So effective. So purposeful.
So what of the human species? Well, God does know what God is doing. Perhaps that we can defend ourselves? (But let’s not stir up controversy here…)
And so to my dear friend the goldfinch I whisper, “Be wary of the hawk that hunts in the neighborhood.” For beauty serves the food chain as well as the perpetuating of species.
Maybe that’s why it begins so small and in a place unnoticed. So in the time it takes to grow to full plumage the one who wears it can learn to wear it well. A season at a time.
Imagine, to be marked by such beauty and not even know it.