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What's Happening?


Updated: Dec 28, 2023

By Terry Burton

I walked the trail at Sparrow’s Way Woods a couple of days ago and then continued out into the tall grass prairie of Creech’s Prairie Restoration to sit under the old, big oak.   It was early afternoon and not the ideal time to be looking for birds to photograph, but sometimes you just use the time you have and enjoy the solitude.  It wasn’t that I didn’t see quite a few birds, I did, mostly sparrows. It’s just that they were hidden in the dried grasses of winter until I got too close for their comfort.  Then they would be flushed from their hiding place only to seek out another cover spot usually out of reach of even my long lens. 

When I was lucky, the sparrows would light in downed brush piles at a distance which was comfortable for them.  There was a mild breeze which kept them in a little motion and also nudged me as I tried to find them in my viewfinder and then focus as I held my breath trying to get a decent picture to help me identify them later.  This dance with the birds would be repeated over and over as I strolled slowly along the trails through the prairie grasses.  I knew full well that many, if not most of the birds I was looking for, just crouched down unseen as I walked by.  Occasionally, I heard the song of the Meadowlark calling repeatedly to the others around who were nestled in the clumps of dry grasses.

When I got to the big oak tree, I sat for a while on the picnic table which beckoned to provide a resting spot.  The broad trunk of the oak was several feet in diameter and its arching limbs reached out and rested firmly on the ground in a protective arch around its base.  The breeze whistled through the many limbs and leaves atop this ancient old oak.  What a great place to rest and reflect.

Earlier this day, I had made what was to me a challenging yet comforting observation.  Looking out at trees along the road in front of me in varying shades of Fall colors, I realized that what I saw was only a portion of the full tree.  Seldom do we ever see the extensive roots that are hidden below each tree.  It occurred to me that my faith is much like these trees.  I love the beauty and mystery of creation and life but I admit that I am challenged with understanding a source and designer of all that surrounds us.  None of us has seen God.  We only see the wondrous creation and experience the love that we share with each other.  And yet, we know in our hearts that there is more to this world than what we can see with our eyes.  Just as we “know” that there must be roots feeding and supporting each majestic tree we see, we can also “know in faith” that we are fed and supported by a loving creator God.  

I really hope that now when I see the trees around me every day and trust that there are unseen roots below holding them up, I will be reminded of an unseen presence lifting and holding me also.  And just in case I forget, every now and then a tiny sparrow will take flight in front of me to remind me that just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

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The Mercado Menonite on December 10, 2023 at San Antonio Mennonite Church raised $1100 for The Sparrow's Way.

Highlights of the sale included:

  • Pupusas and other delicious treats

  • Bottle trees and benches

  • Wreaths and Christmas decorations

  • Soup in a jar

  • and other baked goods and crafts

We are grateful to our vendors, volunteers, and customers for making this a success!

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At the annual migratory bird count at Sparrow's Way Ranch, volunteers catalogued and recorded 29 species of birds. Audubon Society co-sponsored the event and trained volunteers and residents of the ranch.

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