Have you ever had unexpected guests? It happens to the best of people.
I remember my wife, Lynn, telling me about the time there was some kind of community emergency (I don’t know exactly what the emergency was) and she allowed some folks to stay in her home while the emergency was ongoing. When the emergency was over everyone left, everyone, that is, except one man and his wife. Apparently, they had never experienced the acceptance and confirmation that was part of living in her home. It took her weeks to get rid of them.
I remember on occasion some friends dropping by my place. They did have the courtesy to call in advance. The advance call indicated that they had a temporary emergency and needed to stay only one night. Unlike my late wife, I took them at their word and ejected them on the second day.
Now, as a pastor I’m always ready to welcome visitors to our church, even if those visitors were uninvited and even if the return frequently. Such is the case with some visitors who have been visiting the church every year for the last seven years. But they are different than most visitors.
Most visitors, come to the church for a number of reasons. Some are at a point in their lives where they are looking for some meaning. Some are new parents and have the idea they need to develop some spiritual meaning to pass on to their children. Some are curious about the pastor who puts those strange sayings on the church sign. But some come for reasons that are totally beyond my comprehension or any member of my congregation.
At my church we have visitors we can count on every year. They visit for about six weeks in a row, and then they disappear for a year. Annually, they show up at the church and hop about the yard in search of a specific spot. They act like visitors to the sanctuary looking for a pew that won’t draw attention to their newness.
Having found the spot, they take turns scratching into the ground, forming an indentation of a specific size. Every year they do this in the exact same spot. And every year the female lays eggs into the indentation.
They are Killdeer, birds of fascination. Every year I watch them. Every year I warn
William, who cuts the grass, to not run over their nest with the lawn mower. And every year, about this time of year, I become fascinated with the church’s regular visitors.
Daddy Killdeer is a master of deception. Approach the nest and he’ll hop about ten feet away. Then he fakes a broken wing; he rolls around the yard screeching, as though in pain, to detract the seeming predator away from the eggs. But that’s only when the male is on the nest. When the female is on the nest she just defies logic and attacks the would-be predator, wings spread wide, tail pushed up into the air, screeching loudly, pecking hard.
This year there are four eggs in the nest, four eggs that resemble pieces of gravel. In a week or so they will hatch and the four chicks will awake eyes open and almost immediately begin to follow their parents about the yard in search of bugs.
I love those Killdeer. Now, if only I could figure out a way to get the human visitors to return.