Monday, November 3, 2014

Birds on Full Blast

Last week on an oddly warm fall day I took the kids down to our little pond (an over sized puddle) to throw pebbles in. We were struggling with boots and jackets and zippers and "do it myself's" before we heard it.

At first it sounded like an ornery hum, as if we were standing under the buzz of power lines. Slowly my senses awoke and I recognized the trills, lifts and melodic runs. An army of sparrows, robins and finches filled our entire yard with a symphony.

It was so loud that at first I was frightened. Clutching the little, sticky fingers of my four-year old and one-and-a-half year old, (I promise I do wash their hands ) I was imagining a brigade of angry birds pecking our heads until we ran back inside, but quickly the feeling transformed from fear into wonder.

The volume reverberated through the trees. I kept looking up and around just in time to see little flashes of yellow and red darting from bough to bough. A few of them were ground bound, fluttering their wings in the water; bathing and singing as if there weren't three wide-eyed bystanders invading quiet time. It reminded me in an infinitesimal way of what it must have felt like to be in the garden of Eden. Sharing life with the birds and animals without the fear of death or that enmity between us all. 

I felt as if we had stepped into a portal, where peace was potent. I think it could have been what is often referred to in Celtic Christianity as the "thin places"where just for a few brief moments we experience something otherworldly; heavenly. Where God smacks a sloppy wet kiss on us when we're least expecting it. We tingle and we light up, unsure of what we are experiencing is reality or fantasy.

And then it was gone. The birds hushed just as strongly as they came on. Either taking their party up the street to cooler trees or just dispersing into the world each one carrying their part in the greater song. I am just glad that I didn't miss it. That I wasn't scrubbing the kitchen counters or lamenting over the loss of something trivial.

I felt God. I heard him. I watched him fly on the wings of his creation. To some, I'm sure this would seem like just a crap ton of birds in one place at one time, but to me, it was God. His presence thick and real surrounded by an unimpressive chain link fence and arthritic old-growth trees.

Some people experience this crossover in the middle of unspeakable pain–the death of a child or in the loss of a dream. Others experience it in the mountain top aftermath of new life or beating cancer. For me, it was random–gift. Undeserved. Strange. Obtuse. Without rhyme or reason.

Sometimes you just need to download all of the good things that God is doing to fully appreciate his grace. I am in this season of quiet, where busyness has been replaced with large chunks of time spent at home with space to think, reflect and thank.

I don't deserve this life. I deserve death. I deserve that enmity: the inconveniences and spats and the fear of losing it all. I am ridiculously ill equipped to protect and appreciate what I've been given. But I choose to respond with generosity. I don't always do it well, but my heart wants to give away–to break myself every day to become the person God is trying to mold from the dried out clay.

Today, I am in awe that my God, my Jesus, treasures my fissures and faults instead of locking me out of a life full of joy. He has taken my cup and brimmed it with serious, wake-up-in-the-morning and dance joy. (John 15:11) Not happiness. Not ease. Not perfection. Just good old fashioned gratefulness.

We haven't achieved some major goal. Our little family isn't plodding along on some fast track to financial success or traveling the world making our mark–we are just living and loving and showing up and turning in and hugging and encouraging and inviting and letting go and saying the things we know some of our friends and family need to hear. We're open. Open to seeing God doing beauty among the rubble.

I have been in seasons of life where my sin was so stickily present that it's reckless resin felt inescapable; becoming an unreliable rudder.

But not right now. I don't fuss over my jean size as much. I don't bat eyelashes or ask for more spotlight like I used to. I squeeze and kiss my kids so much more often instead of shooing them away for a deadline or to deal with personalities in a job that I was worshiping. This is my reward: God giving me eyes to see things I was blind to before (Proverbs 20:12). I still have glaring blind spots–God knows that, as does everybody else who knows me. I'm human, I'm captivated by want; by indulgences.

Joy though, I'm discovering, is the counter to the craving. And it's so full. The exchange rate. Blood for blessing. Screw ups for scandalous love. And if I had to guess what joy sounds like I would have to imagine it's something like birds on full blast.

We're in this together,

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