For a number of weeks at our house we’ve been hearing a strange sound. The sound is like a very rapid knock (knock, knock, knock, knock, with multiple knocks happening within a few seconds). When I first heard the sound I got up from a chair and went to answer the front door. No one was there. A few days later, I heard the sound again and wondered whether or not I needed to call a plumber. Soon thereafter, the sound seemed to be coming from the chimney so I bent down and looked up, of course seeing nothing. Not long after this, the sound started happening every day, particularly in the morning. The good news was that we were able to locate the general location from which the sound was coming.
As it turns out, the sound was the noise of a woodpecker pounding on a wooden railing. At first, I wondered why a woodpecker was pecking on a railing instead of a tree. It seemed to me that a tree trunk would be more productive for finding food sources. I was curious so I looked up woodpeckers on an ornithology website. It was there I learned that woodpeckers don’t just peck for food, but also for marking their territory and attracting potential mates. It’s a good thing human beings don’t do this, or we would all have concussions.
Every day, I now anticipate seeing the woodpecker peck away at the railing. The sound is no longer troublesome, but entertaining. As I watched the woodpecker recently, I thought of all of the times in my life in which I was not pecking at a railing, but figuratively banging my head against a wall. I then pondered something over which I continue to bang my head against the wall. It then struck me that unlike a headbanging woodpecker, there is absolutely little to no purpose for me to continue banging my head against the wall. I just need to stop pecking and giving myself a headache.
This all reminds me of a short story in the Second Book of Samuel, chapter 16. In it, King David and his followers are in conflict with those who were supporters of the late King Saul. As David was walking along, a man from Saul’s family began pelting David with stones. The people with David were furious and wanted to take
care of the pesky stone thrower. David in essence says, “forget about it. Let him be. God will take care of this.”
This story is a good reminder to all of us who at least occasionally bang our heads against a wall, that sometimes what is best is simply to let go of the challenge or annoyance and turn it over to God. There is much over which we have little to no control and to continue pecking away at it will never be productive.
I am glad the woodpecker showed up at our house. The woodpecker has helped me to let go of something. Now I don’t have to waste energy over something I truly can’t do anything about and I can go back to watching our visiting winged wise creature either find a mate or let others know the territory is claimed.