I’m sitting in my room reading, and I just heard a strange noise outside. I’m home alone, so I knew it wasn’t one of the kids. It sounded like a dog whimpering and crying. I put down my book and searched the tree line. Perched at the very top of a tall oak tree sat a roadrunner. If you have been around roadrunners much, you know this is not normal. I’ve never seen one more than a foot or two off the ground. I thought my eyes were mistaken. Maybe a woodpecker? Similar coloring, but no, this was a roadrunner. In a treetop. Then, he tucked his head down, rocked his body back and forth, and bellowed out a mournful sound. The sound I had heard. A roadrunner mating cry I presumed, for what else would make a ground dwelling creature climb to perilous heights? A quick google search confirmed my suspicions.
My dad has a coworker that lives in another country who once said “always I am thinking.” Though the English may be broken, this is such a true statement for me. Seeing something as simple as a roadrunner crying out for a mate sparks about ten trains of thought all traveling in divergent directions. And I have to follow each track, and ponder, and wonder, until at last they all hit a junction and something comes. Some truth. Sometimes it takes days, or weeks, but something always comes. (So if you’re ever around me and I seem totally distracted, this is probably why. Something is percolating.) Here are my random thoughts for today.
A couple of springs ago, I sat still and silent on my back porch for a few minutes while my kids napped. Twitterpated birds danced through the air, dragonflies hummed by, and wasps worked above me building a nest. The warm breeze blew straight through me, into me, and I felt something, “Love creates life.” I have always loved the new life of spring, and the symbolism there, but had never thought of it in quite that way. Simple, yet profound. Love creates life. Again my mind wandered… as it often does. Have you ever noticed that when God planted the garden of Eden, “He caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the eye and good for food.” This world he created is not just for utilitarian purposes. He created some things just because they are “pleasing to the eye.” What love! A short time later, after Adam and Eve so blatantly disregarded the one thing God asked of them, breaking the fellowship they had, and so much more… “the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Life giving. Yes, there were consequences, but HE CLOTHED THEM! He could have said, “The only reason you need clothes is because you didn’t listen to me. You disobeyed. Figure it out. You’re on your own.” He could have at least stopped at “Ok, I guess now you’ll need some clothes. Go kill this sort of animal, and skin it in this way, and you can make some clothes for yourselves.” This one act so challenges the way I discipline my children! Love creates life. In Ephesians 4, Paul writes, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” It’s hard enough to choose words that give grace when I am frustrated with or disappointed in my children, but to put away all anger, bitterness, wrath, malice? Like God did. He had every right to hold onto His anger. It was justified. But He clothed them.
Next random thought… I couldn’t decide at first whether the roadrunner (remember him?) was searching for a mate or mourning the loss of one. Everything from his bowed-down posture to his rocking to his minor-keyed song suggested loss, grief, pain. And so we come to train track number next. Love is a mournful song. We all long to be known and loved, and that’s vulnerability, and sometimes it hurts. We love our children, but to love them well is to let go. Over and over again. To let go of the urge to step in at the toddler’s first cry when they are frustrated over a toy, to let go of the kindergarteners hand on that first day of school, to let go of your own feelings and truly hear theirs when a friend is unkind, to let go of the urge to protect from disappointment, to let go of the desire to hold fast and instead let them climb, and ride, and soar, to let go of fear and hand over the keys to the car, to let go of all control and send them out into the world, to let go of plans and listen when they call for advice, to hold back said advice when they call for support, and the list could go on… A poem I love called “Learning the Bicycle” concludes with, “I stop and know that to teach her I had to follow, and when she learned I had to let her go.” Letting go hurts. Love is a mournful song.
We love our spouses, but if we are not careful, that love can lead us to make more of their role than it was meant to be. Instead of making the Lord our rock and salvation, our strength and song, we can turn to our spouse to meet our need for comfort, stability, reassurance, affirmation, etc. There is beauty in the marriage relationship. I’m not feeling well at all today, and I have searched the house for my man several times today just because I needed a hug, or a kiss on the forehead. I can feel myself being recharged, just like I could from his hand in mine on our first date, and that is beautiful. But there is a difference in receiving that kind of support and comfort and trying to make your spouse your sole, or even primary Need Meeter and Life Sustainer. For that you must return to the one who gave you life and breath.
Let’s go there, though. Is loving the Lord a mournful song? A resounding yes! To love Him means to surrender our rights, our plans, our very lives. To follow Him is to take up a cross, and to die to self, and dying hurts. To trust Him is to give up our right to understand. The first half of Lamentations 3, one of my favorite chapters in the entire bible, abounds with words like “affliction, darkness, wasting away, broken, bitterness, hardship, heavy chain, crooked paths, desolate, rejected.” But then this happens: “Remember my affliction and my wandering… Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.” Or this from Habakkuk, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” I’ll take some mourning to get me some of this. This joy in suffering. This hope in waiting. This strength in weakness. He promises over and over that we will never be alone, but He never promises that we won’t feel alone. Love is a mournful song, but His love, and His love ALONE can take our sorrowful chorus and turn it into dancing. Sorrow to joy. Beauty from ashes. Heart of stone to heart of flesh. Lamentations 3 again, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.”
Sorry so fragmented… all from a roadrunner.