The last house we owned in Chicago had cedar siding.  At one point in its existence it had been pretty.  A nice blue with white trim, set off with black shutters and a cedar shake roof.  Very pretty.  Very homey.

But I say that it was pretty at one point in its existence because apparently, along with clothes, photos, and other personal possessions, we also unpacked a woodpecker when we moved in.  From almost Day 1, I was doing battle with this thing.  I have never been a heavy sleeper, so when it decided to take up residence on the wall outside our bedroom, I often found myself outside at 3 am, trying to scare this nuisance away.


Did you know that Woodpeckers DON’T migrate? Old people with several layers of fat on their bones will head from the shores of Lake Michigan to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in the winter, but the Red-bellied Woodpecker, which is native to Illinois and weighs all of 3 ounces, will tough it out in the Windy City.

I tried everything, the foil spirals, the long ribbons of reflective fabric, the giant eye balloon, the fake owl.  I even took my kids’ Spiderman sprinkler head and tied it to a tree, hoping it might somehow scare off this sharp-nosed devil.

32 holes in my house. Nothing worked.

So, off to Bass Pro Shops I went.  The BB gun.  No Daisy Red Rider for this guy. (I didn’t want to shoot my eye out.)  Instead I went with the Crosman 760. I’d killed my fair share of Pepsi cans as a kid, so I figured I could take out a bird feasting on my house.

Except there was one problem.

Did you know Woodpeckers are a protected animal, and I don’t just mean by Satan?  You actually need a permit to “lethally control” the population.  Honest.  But, I didn’t care.  Did I mention 32 holes?

One winter day, I was leaving the house for a funeral.  I was suited up, clerical collar and all, and I heard that damned familiar tap, tap, tap.  Tap, tap, tap.

I threw some boots on, grabbed the Crosman, and ran around the front of the house.  I saw him there, on the side of the house, taunting me, tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. I pumped the Crosman, took aim, POP.  Missed, but it was close.  He was staring at me now.  Daring me to fire again.  I’m pretty sure he let go of my house with one foot and gave me the bird finger with it. Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap.

I was furious.  5 pumps, FIRE.  5 pumps, FIRE.  5 pumps, FIRE.

Then, I stopped.  Suddenly, I couldn’t shoot any more.  I knew deep inside my soul this was not the way to solve the problem.

Was it because I suddenly found a connection with the bird, a recognition that we were part of the same creation?  If I were a better man, the answer would be yes.

But no.  My sudden change of heart was the moment of clarity when I remembered that our house backed up to Great Lakes Naval Base.  Literally, backed up.  Our fence was an 8-foot chain link topped with razor wire.  Firing a weapon, any kind of weapon toward the naval base was one of the dumber things I’ve done in my life.  I pictured the headline, “Local Pastor Headed to Gitmo”.


I have been hunting, but I’m not a hunter. I was going to stay quiet about a lion being killed until I saw this photo.

Cecil Protestors Large

I’m not sure I know what “I am Cecil” means. I know what they’re going for.  But we can’t identify with the people of Africa. How in the world can we identify with a lion?

If the dentist did something illegal, he should be punished. But the outrage over an animal from a continent whose human population we have largely ignored seems a little misplaced.

Read this article. Then, watch this video.

How in touch are we, really?

One thought on “I can confess this since I failed.

  1. Well, the article and the video pretty much sums up the way we view things that we cannot really relate to. On a lighter note, I now have this mental image of you all cammo’ed up like Carl Spackler saying “Licensed to kill woodpeckers by the government of the United Nations.” Kind of difficult to get that one out of my mind.

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