I caught a bird yesterday. I held its tiny body in my hands and for a brief moment; it trusted me. I was making a cake in the kitchen and I heard this incessant banging. I looked out of the window onto our glassed-in patio area and saw that there was a bird frantically whizzing about hitting window after window and failing to see the door.
I remember I was in an airport once and a couple of birds were flying around the rafters, and whoever I was with, turned to me and said, “It’s tragic, you know. Those birds will never find their way out; they’re as good as dead.” I’d always thought it was fun to see birds inside airports or warehouses or next to the garden section of Wal-Mart, now every time I see one inside; it fills me with an incurable sorrow for the inevitably of the untimely demise of these tiny symbols of freedom.
Naturally, I couldn’t just sit and watch it happen, or stay in the kitchen and listen as the thuds got quieter and less frequent until they finally stopped. I rushed out onto the patio and feeling helpless, sat there willing the bird to see the open exit it had not seen before. Concentrated power of will wasn’t enough (it never seems to be), and even after going around and trying to coax the bird from the opposite side of the window to fly away from the routes it had been trying, it continued.
Finally, it alighted on the window sill, too spent to continue. Its tiny body pulsed with the intensity of its fluttering heart. I tentatively reached out toward it, knowing a bird’s predisposition for flying away, even from a good thing, I didn’t expect to make contact. But it was too tired to resist and before I knew what was happening the tip of my finger was gliding along the strange, warmth and softness of the little creature’s back. I clasped both hands gently around it; there was a moment of panic in the beads of its tiny eyes, then a moment of understanding and trust. I walked through the door into the back yard and opened my hands. It momentarily stood looking at me, before discovering its freedom and ascending the heights.
Such a simple experience, hardly worth a mention in the continuous rush of time barreling on, but it was intensely spiritual for me. When I first crouched down to take a closer look and the quivering ball of feathers grasping for respite and escape, I saw myself. I whiz and twirl and fly with intensity and vitality, I see my goals, I see the sun shining and the high branches of trees calling, but I can’t reach them, and I’m battered for the trying.
I see that what I’m doing isn’t working, isn’t getting me where I want to be. I’m losing my taste for fresh air, but no matter how I try, I don’t see the open door and I’m beginning to doubt that it’s there at all. Sometimes it takes someone who is standing back and seeing the entire room to scoop you up in His arms of love and show you the door that leads to the sweetness of freedom.
My life has given me a keen perception of the chasm gaping between expectations and reality, but that doesn’t make the shock of hitting that pane of glass (over and over again), when I was just flying full force towards what I want, any less painful or disappointing.
We have a Father in Heaven who is the most intelligent being in this universe or any other. He’s not like the people that you know that think they are that intelligent, He is. He is at once perfectly just, possessing of mercy beyond compare or expectation. He is capable of more love than any of us is capable of even comprehending, and all things are present before him. What’s more, He knows us more personally and intimately than we know ourselves, and despite the holes He finds there, His love for what He sees remains wholly unscathed.
Why, when we have this supremely intelligent, perfectly empathetic Father who also happens to be standing at a spot in the covered patio where He can see what you cannot, would you ever look anywhere else for counsel? That little faith affirming bird that I had in my hands, if only for an instant, was a sparrow. If not one sparrow is forgotten before God (Luke 12:6), how much more will the Father remember and want desperately to succor you, for “ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). He does remember you, but you must stop the fluttering panic long enough to be still and know Him, and allow yourself to be enclosed in his arms of rescue, the only arms that will allow you to soar.