A year of birds...

Each year in April on my birthday, I take the day off and spend it in meditation and prayer. I usually try to get away and to be close to water. This year, I went to Joe Poole Lake and found myself walking down a trail and sitting down on the edge of a creekbed hidden by trees.

Everywhere I looked was green. I was completely surrounded by it. In fact, I remember being a little surprised that I was immersed in a single color. As I prayed, a bright red cardinal appeared in the canopy of leaves above me. I find it important to pay attention to the incongruous, because often God is in it. Sometimes God sends things that are special like a lover sends flowers to his beloved. For me, the cardinal meant God wanted me to know He was listening.

Another morning about six weeks later, I awoke to the absolutely beautiful song of a bird outside my window. As I lay there listening to the music, I heard God say, "I know his name." When I say I heard God, it wasn't an audible voice exactly. More like a really profound thought that I knew didn't originate with me. Matthew 10:29-31 mentions that God is aware when each sparrow falls to the ground and that we are worth far more than sparrows, but there was something incredibly personal about God saying He knew their names. It would be a thought that I hung onto for the next six months because later that night, I experienced one of the biggest traumas I've ever had to navigate. As I worked my way through a gamut of numbness, anger, fear and raw pain, God sent a steady stream of cardinals to remind me He was still there...even though I couldn't feel Him at all.

The birds became such a "thing" that we set up a feeder in the backyard over the summer. It was made even more special by bright yellow escaped parakeet that came to feed each day. Our whole family became excited when they got to see him. A couple of months later, John completed the sparrow condiminiums and we put them in the backyard next to the "all you can eat" buffet.

In November, when we went with Carl & Sunny to see the movie, Enchanted on their 10th Anniversary, I sighed and said that real princesses had birds and mice to help them. John laughed and reminded me that I had both.

Today, I am reading a book by Jesuit priest, Anthony DeMello, which includes this story:

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen.
The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken.
He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled.
And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a
magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky.
It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents,
with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked.

"That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor.
"He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth--we're chickens."
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

I absolutely love it when God does the unexpected--like spending the year talking to me in birds.

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall