CREDOS : Precious lives — V

On the inside of the big pane I put up a half dozen pink Post-It notes like small warning flags: Stay away. It worked; no more birds flew into the window for the remainder of my time there. I was relieved. When my retreat was over, I told the abbey’s director what had happened. He said there were semi-transparent decals that look like spider webs in a large window of another cabin on the grounds that deter birds from flying into the glass. He made a note to add them to Cliffhanger. We thanked each other. And the birds, I noted to myself, thanked us both.

When I returned home I was shocked to learn that an estimated 100 million birds die every year by colliding with windows. “These collisions usually involve small songbirds, such as finches, that may fall unnoticed to the ground,” read a website. I put two spider web decals on the big kitchen window of my house, too.

It was a small thing, putting up those Post-It notes and spider web decals, at least compared to what else needs saving in the world. But one of my favourite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chödrön, suggests that to make the world a more humane place, you start where you are. That’s what I did, and to the birds whose lives may now be spared, that’s huge. I’ll admit that I am often still quick to anger, easily annoyed, and frequently critical — no matter how many retreats I go on. But I do try to remember now that it often takes so little to help so much. — (Concluded)