I recall a day several years ago at my former home in North Providence. At an early age my mother had gotten me interested in bird watching, so much so that even today I am a proud member of the National Autobahn Society. My love of birds was one of those unsuspecting gifts given to me by my mother. Even today thoughts of her always come to mind whenever I recall the names of the many birds indigenous to the New England region. She never said, “Look at the bird Ronny.” Instead she noted the exact species and from that I am today able to recall them all. Funny, I remember her saying that after she ascended she would come back to visit me as a bird.
Well, on that day in by old backyard I had unwittingly engaged myself in a battle against several squirrels who were wreaking havoc on my birdfeeders. I had inserted a hanging post on which to mount my feeders several days earlier. In my mind it would be nearly impossible for my furry friends to climb the thin metal post and pillage the seed. After all, it was nothing like the textured bark of the oaks and maples which surrounded the rest of the yard and of which made my previous defensive maneuvers ineffective. Hanging a birdfeeder on the branch of a tree is one of the best ways to assist a squirrel in breaking and entering a feeder.
One day I received an epiphany. I came up with what I thought was an incredible idea. Why not grease the pole? So I immediately went outside and sprayed the six foot post with non stick cooking spray. I reentered the house with what I am sure was a somewhat smug grin upon my face and prepared to watch my newest scheme foil the attempts of those birdseed bandits.
It was not long before the first thieves arrived on the scene. Sure enough, they jumped up on the pole and slid right down to the bottom. It was the funniest thing that you would ever want to see. Hand over hand the attempted to scale the feeder post, but quickly slid down with every attempt. I began to feel an incredible wave of satisfaction come over me. The battle had been won!
Soon I would discover that my victory would be short lived. You see, those pesky little critters decided they would never give up. Surrender was not an option for hungry squirrels anxious to bust into my storehouse. They knew it could be done. They tried several different ways at first. One decided to climb to the top of a nearby maple and attempted the most stunning aerial attempt I have ever witnessed, but it was to no avail. As he leaped off the towering branches, he hit the top of the feeder and plummeted to the ground without abducting a single seed.
It was not long after that that they decided to stick to the game plan. They would indeed scale that pole. One attempt after another they continued to climb. With every attempt they seemed to get closer and closer to achieving their goal. The grease was wearing off the post! In striving for their goals constantly and continuously they had won!
This reminded me of a picture I have been seeing in my mind over the past few weeks. The vision consists of several monkeys side by side attempting to reach new heights on what seemed to be some sort of carnival game. So often they would reach a certain level barely reaching their goal before seemingly giving in and falling back. I immediately related this to a very common scenario I see much more often than I’d like to say.
As we attempt to pursue our dreams and goals many of us give up just short of them and slide back down to where we were prior. It is only by constant and continuous persistence and perseverance that we will be able to one day hold the prize in the palm of our hands. Only by continually trying will we be able to continually achieve.
Back some time ago I volunteered to chaperone a fieldtrip for my son’s school. After an incredibly noisy bus drive we arrived at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. The kids were wonderfully excited and in awe of the many species of animals on display. The ones that stuck in my mind most of all were the gigantic elephants who were barely restrained for their feeding. Attached to their ankles was a thin length of rope ties on to a small stake in the sand. I thought how easy it would be for any of those mammoth creatures to free themselves from that which seemed so successfully to confine them to their current position, keeping them from eating each others’ food. Then I recalled a story I heard many years ago about why this is so.
When elephants are very young they are tied this same way. Early in life they realize that they cannot escape from that which binds them. In a short time they no longer attempt to free themselves. They no longer persist or persevere. Although their bodies have changed and grown larger and stronger they still adamantly believe it cannot be done and therefore decide to no longer try.
There is an incredible life lesson in both stories. By not giving up the squirrel eventually received his reward, but the elephant fell back and accepted his defeat. As in our own lives, we sometimes feel that all the work we do is in vain. We are only going to slide back down the pole anyway. Well, maybe we will wear the grease off the pole by continually trying? I believe that life is exactly this way. Through our trials and tribulations we will experience many test and share as much inspiring testimonies. In the course of our travel, as we persevere, no matter how far away we perceive ourselves as being, we most likely are only a few attempts from experiencing our greatest dreams and accomplishing our most sought after goals.
Persistence allows us to continually move forward despite obstacles and perseverance enables us to constantly overcome them.
In faith always,