“The Greater Good”



For about a half-hour one night last week, a squall blew through Somerville. Drinking my coffee on the deck the next morning, my back yard littered with tree branches and leaves and a couple of sodden, plastic bags, I heard what I can only describe as a “whimper,” a plaintive and persistent cry coming from, I discovered, a baby cardinal sitting on a rock next to our tiny backyard pond. Could the high winds of the night before have blown this little creature, easy to identify by its downy crest, out of its nest? Quite possibly. And, it turned out, its brother or sister as well. Because, as I watched, two crested fledglings awkwardly moved to a low bush and then to our hammock and then to a higher bush and then to the top of our neighbor’s fence and then to a branch of the neighbor’s peach tree where a male cardinal suddenly appeared to feed one baby and then the other!

Yesterday morning, one of those fledglings zoomed right over my head and landed on the deck’s wrought-iron table—just two feet away from where I was again drinking my coffee.

“Hey, little guy,” I said. “You shouldn’t be there. You’re supposed to be afraid of me.” It didn’t move. So I stomped my foot as hard as I could. And away it flew.

Such a simple act; frightening an animal in order to teach it to be wary of humans. No big deal, right?

Yet this simple (and well-meaning) act makes me wonder about the not-so-simple decisions to do something difficult or unpleasant “for the greater good.” I think about decision-makers who must wrestle with much, much more difficult trade-offs, must weigh the needs of one person or group against those of others, decide who deserves the legislation, the research funding, the right to live; whatever.

(Sometimes I am just so grateful to just sit in my own backyard praising God, not being God!)



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  1. Dear Patricia,
    Hi, there, Patricia! I just so love your beautiful and lovely blog post articles and book! You are such a gift and a blessing with your marvelous written words with such beauty, style, grace filled with the Spirit! I am so, so very inspired by you, Patricia, and your fabulously fantastic writings! It just makes my day and fills me with positive and optimistic inspiration! I am like you, too. I love to watch birds-they are such beautiful creatures of our Dear God. I do the same thing. I look out of my living room window of my apartment and I can see lovely birds gliding through the sky back and forth, from tree to tree and all around the yard of my apartment complex. I even enjoy my coffee like you do gazing out of my window. I am so, so very blessed with such a beautiful view from the side of my apartment building I live on. I am so glad I chose the apartment on this side of my building because it does indeed have the best view on this side of the building! I love how the sweet daddy cardinal fed his two babies their delicious feast of their tasty meal. What a treat and a blessing for you to watch them, Patricia!

    I am like you as well! I could never be God! I could never handle the ever present responsibilities which our Dearest and Darling God Creator handles! Our God is so, so good and so, so very Precious and Powerful. I am very glad God is in charge-Spirit really does indeed know what is best for each and every one of us! It is truly difficult for our legislators and other authorities to weigh how to do the best for some people when it may possibly create a hardship for other people. I could not handle their responsibility either! It would take such incredible wisdom to decide in a just and fair manner. It can be such a delicate and a tricky balance. I pray often and daily that our Good Spirit’s Perfect Will be done whenever possible, and that when that does not happen that Spirit anoints our muddling and blesses our mess!

    I so love your spectacular blog and your very fine and excellent book my white sister and ally in solidarity who you are, Patricia! I have such joy and blessings from reading your gracious writings! The pictures you place with your blog post articles are very well matched to your wonderful writings! Please have a very nice, special, and a blessed day, Patricia! I am waiting in such eager anticipation for more of your uplifting writings! You are such a wordsmith!

    Very Sincerely Always,
    Your black sister in solidarity Sherry Gordon

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