It was another day where the forest met the square meadow. Red Squirrel and Grey Squirrel, Chipmunk, Nuthatch, Chickadee and Blue Jay were all busy relocating the excellent stash of nuts the monkey had hung in plain sight.
Suddenly, Blue Jay started laughing, watching Nuthatch grab one tiny nut. "How can you be a real nuthatch, when you can only take one tiny nut at a time? You're doing it wrong!"
Nuthatch was so startled, it dropped the tiny walnut piece that fit perfectly into Nuthatch's beak.
Red Squirrel and Grey Squirrel were quick to join Blue Jay in laughing at Nuthatch. They were always quick to join Blue Jay in just about anything. Together, they could keep almost all the other animals in line and the majority of the monkey's food stash to themselves. "Haha, Nuthatch can't gather the tasty seeds and nut pieces right!" And then they chittered with the special laughter of squirrels that makes even Fox blush.
Nuthatch hunkered down and crept backwards, ashamed. Meanwhile, Chipmunk scampered in and gathered up the tiny walnut piece that Nuthatch had dropped, adding it deftly to the bulging cheeks.
Blue Jay turned on Chipmunk. "Chipmunk, you're wasting your time, gathering in those tiny scraps of walnuts and small safflower seeds."
Chipmunk stopped, feeling that shame run in a stripe down its back. Chipmunk opened its mouth to shout back, and all the food it had gathered sprayed out of its mouth. This made Red and Grey Squirrel laugh even harder, as they joined Blue Jay in scooping up what Chipmunk had just spit out.
Chipmunk and Nuthatch backed away and hunkered down in their shame. They had lost what they had, and they were even more ashamed.
Chickadee had been flying into the monkey's seed and nut stash and away to Chickadee's own special stash spots, but startled by the excessive laughter, Chickadee stopped to see what was going on.
Chickadee grabbed another sunflower seed and flew up into the hemlock, stashing the seed in just the right spot. Then Chickadee did something Chickadee had been practicing for a while, secretly, down by the babbling brook so no one else could hear. Chickadee called out like Hawk.
Blue Jay, Red Squirrel and Grey Squirrel froze. Hawk was bad news. They dove under cover.
Chickadee flew down to Nuthatch and Chipmunk and encouraged them to gather more tiny seeds and nut pieces. They went back about their business for many long and sweet minutes.
Finally, Red Squirrel peeked out and announced the coast was clear of Hawk. Grey Squirrel and Blue Jay came flocking back to the pile of food. Everyone was busy once again.
Later, as the sun was about to set, Chickadee, Nuthatch and Chipmunk were on the old hemlock, watching the sun go down. Nuthatch sighed. "Chipmunk, I wish I could gather as many nut pieces and little seeds as you can at one go."
Chipmunk sighed, "Nuthatch, I wish I was able to be as fast as you and see the best tiny pieces to gather up."
Chickadee sighed, "I try to be fast like you, Nuthatch and gather as well as you, Chipmunk, but I do what I can."
Nuthatch laughed. "Fortunately, that includes calling out like Hawk."
And the sun went down on three friends.
May the sun go down on shaming, too.
Each of us has our gifts and our talents.
This Lenten season, let's let go of shame, and use our gifts and talents to help one another.
P.S. I have never heard a chickadee imitate a hawk, but I did hear one imitate a crow to move off some squirrels hogging a feeder.