Metallic Strips And Yellow Balloons

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I saw something shiny out of the corner of my eye.
When I got a little closer, I saw multiple shiny things.
I did not understand what I was seeing because of its placement.
My eyes told me one thing but my mind told me another.

When I got even closer to the house, I saw yellow balloons.
I have seen balloons on people’s mailboxes.
This was different.
This was four randomly placed balloons that were very close to the house.

It was a mystery I was trying to solve.
Nothing I came up with in my mind seemed to fit.
I watched the yellow balloons sway side to side in the wind.
I noticed that the shiny things I saw were actually strips of metallic paper.

I wondered if all of this was for a party or a celebration.
Even that did not make sense because of the placement.
The balloons were close to the downstairs windows.
The shiny metallic paper strips were attached to each window.

The house is a stately brick house.
It is always neat and well kept.
The owners take pride in their home.
The balloons and the shiny metallic strips made no sense at all.

Days later, I was on my walk.
I had my phone in my hand and was dictating a message.
I heard a car coming up behind me.
The car stopped; I saw that it was my neighbor.

This particular neighbor lives in the house with the balloons and the shiny metallic strips.
After talking for a few minutes about other things, the question just begged to be asked.
Why are there balloons in front of your house? I asked as I watched my neighbor grimace.
Ugh, we have a robin…her voice continued but I already understood the problem.

It happens this time of year.
The robins are ready to build their nest.
We have birds that build a nest behind one of our shutters outside our bedroom window.
This time of year, a robin will continuously fly into the window.

When American Robins start feeling territorial each year, they do their best to keep other adults of the same sex outside of their territorial boundaries. When a territorial robin notices its reflection in a window or mirror within its territory, it gets agitated, raises the feathers on its head, and assumes a dominant posture. Normally that is enough to make any other robins leave the territory immediately. But instead of flying away, the reflected robin seems to get equally agitated, raises its head feathers, and gets in an equally dominant posture. The first time this happens, the real robin often just leaves. If it’s a male, he often goes to his favorite song perch and starts singing. When he doesn’t hear a responding song, he’s more certain that this is really his own territory. If it’s a female, she goes back to her daily activities and stays on the lookout for other females.

If the robin sees that reflection again, it gets more and more agitated — but so does the reflection! Finally, the robin flies in to chase the other robin away. But the reflection flies in exactly the same way, and the robin hits the glass. And the reflected robin STILL doesn’t leave! No matter how aggressive the real robin gets, and no matter how hard it fights, the reflection matches it. The real robin becomes more and more determined to drive that upstart away!

One technique that sometimes works is to paper over the area where the robin has been actually hitting, and then hang shiny helium balloons nearby. Most birds are frightened of helium balloons, probably because they act so different from things birds encounter in nature: they seem to fall up! (https://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/WindowBonk.html)

The male robin is marking his territory.
The male robin thinks he is battling another robin.
However, the bird the robin is really battling is himself.
It is painful to watch and horrible to listen to, when you hear the sound inside your house.

I feel for my neighbor.
I have experienced the same thing.
I often wondered how the robin survives the constant battle with himself against the glass.
After weeks of hearing the sound repeatedly, one day it just seems to stop.

I often wondered what happened to the robin.
I almost expected to see the robin dead in the mulch beds outside the window.
I never did.
The battle, that had been so intense for weeks, simply ended.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25)

Often, we are just like that robin.
We keep bashing our metaphorical head against a glass window of our own making.
We are battling an enemy that is not really there.
We are battling ourselves.

That battle rages every day.
The battle is against the sin nature that tries to wreak havoc on our lives.
We know what we ought to do but we cannot carry it out.
We want to do the right thing but often find that we do just the opposite.

We bash our head against a glass window day after day.
We hurt ourselves in the process.
However, we have a Rescuer; we have a Deliverer.
We have the Lord Jesus who already won the battle through His death and resurrection.

No need for balloons.
No need for shiny metallic strips.
However, we do need something in this battle.
We need a Savior who has battled for us and who is victorious.

I will look at the house differently when I am on my walk.
One of these days, their robin problem will end as abruptly as it began.
For us; however, our battle rages on while we are this side of heaven.
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!


Whispers of His Movement and Whispers in Verse books are now available in paperback and e-book!


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