The Birds' Story
It seemed like a good day to have an outdoor lunch. I picked out two of the softest pieces of bread that I could find from the almost two-week-old loaf in the pantry. I should have been on my way to the grocery store in response to the sad state of my cupboards, but instead I made my way out to the front porch.
I had been doing that a lot lately, responding differently to the needs around me. I had spent a big chunk of my life in a state of emergency towards every situation and guilt would seize those vulnerable and rushed moments like fire, burning away all of the joy of my work.
My nose, tuned and trained by the aroma of Truth, has gotten sensitive to the smell of smoke and I am choosing to take one big step back when I feel an unwarranted sense of urgency.
For my simple lunch on the porch, I tried to make the kind of ham sandwich that my mom used to make when I was a teenager. I remember those days when the demands of schoolwork and the pressure to measure up introduced us all to the way that the world stacks and divides.
We were learning to be successful in the world, but I’m not so sure that we were given the right definition. There are many lessons in life that ought to be unlearned.
In those youthful days, when I didn’t feel like I was stacking well, my mom would craft for me the kind of sandwich that would put the world away for a bit. Hospitality has a way about it that repurposes the simple things of life into the grand.
She would take two pieces of soft, stick to the roof of your mouth bread, bookending piles of ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato. The whole, cut into two perfectly triangular parts, making it doubly satisfying.
As anyone might say, who has shared in true hospitality, it was really so much more than a sandwich. When love wants to communicate, it can use anything it wants to. This is an extraordinary thought, because it means that any one of us can love really well in the present moment, right where we are and with what we’ve got.
I eagerly made my way outside, carrying my sandwich in one hand, balancing it between my drink and my journal and settled into my favorite oversized chair. I took a moment to thank God, even in the ups and downs, He had kept me steady all these years. His Spirit graciously and continually inviting me into all Truth.
This front row seat to His beautiful creation, which continues to reveal His Glory over and over again, was the better choice for me that day.
The busy world seemed to hush and I felt like I was fully able to embrace the moment right in front of me. These are the slowed down moments in life, simple and pure, that wake us up from our natural inclination to remain on autopilot, widening our capacity to notice the world around us with fresh eyes, soft hearts and childlike wonder.
Often, we have to fight to stay present, the victory of living awake, coming closer to defining success than any material recognition or possession.
It was in this space of quiet observation that I began to notice the activity all around me. Just a few feet from my chair, there seemed to be a desperate sort of construction taking place. I watched in awe as two birds, I am assuming a male and female, were frantically building a nest in the thorny branches of a rose bush.
One bird would pick up something from the ground that it deemed a worthy building material and then stuff and pack it into a circular bed of leaves and sticks. When it was done, the other bird would do the same, working in tandem to quickly complete the task.
If they were aware of my presence, it didn’t faze them one bit and they continued on with their work for over half an hour. I sat silently the entire time, amazed at the way they built, in perfect partnership and with such purpose.
When I peeked into the nest the very next morning, I would find two tiny blue speckled eggs. That’s when it occurred to me that she did not start building her nest until the day that she laid her eggs.
What a beautiful lesson for me, still learning the rhythms of daily trust, that nature is responding to its Creator with the fullness of its activity in a simple daily manner.
Their activity is not in response to worry or control, but steeped in the assurance that their needs are always met. The birds are teaching us lessons about the beauty of depending on a Good God, revealing to us evidence of His faithfulness.
We are not to be a panicked kind of people, but a people of faith. We are not to respond to life as if it is an emergency, causing fear and anxiety, but in dependent partnership with His perfect timing and plan.
If there is an urgency to our activity, let it be at His prompting. But if our activity is unwarranted, let us take one big step back and make a better choice with the fleeting time that we have here. Let us allow the joy of our work to return as we meet each new day saturated in the love and care of our heavenly Father.