The weather warmed up again today, and I was able to sit on the back porch, not really reading, but letting a book lie face down in my lap. Among the afternoons sounds I heard was a woodpecker stubbornly knocking at a tree. The repeated hollow clackings echoed in the air, creating its own staccato music. I wonder how the bird’s head can withstand the repeated poundings it receives without damage. Dead pine branches and trunks are riddled with the holes they bore into the wood, searching for insects and larvae. God gave them a peculiar gift, protecting their brains despite the impact of beak on solid wood. As I look at the animal world that exists on the island, it’s obvious each has a special gift, a method of dealing with the environment and flourishing. I believe the same is true of humans; each of us has a gift given by God, intended for his use in his service. Sometimes the gifts are obvious—a beautiful voice, skilled hands, musical talent, teaching ability, and so on, but sometimes the gifts are less obvious. Hands that help set up chairs for a church dinner, feet that walk to visit an ailing neighbor, ears that hear the cries of the needy, fingers that pick flowers to carry to someone who’s lonely or depressed. Please, Lord, help me find my own gifts, encourage the gifts in others, and understand that we are all loved equally. Amen.

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