This morning, sipping my coffee, glancing out the window, I see a simple sparrow on the deck railing. Then in an instant she darts like an instantaneous thought and is gone.
It was perhaps the first time I had seen a bird fly!
Of course I have seen it thousands, but in that moment I was incredulous. Maybe if this creature had started running (the way our airplanes gradually gather up speed down the runway) and eventually taken flight I would not have “seen” it. But one moment she was still, and the next moment she was literally a blur.
“Oh, that I had wings like a dove,” is the Psalm (55) that came to mind.
We often feel heavy and weighted and plodding (think of all the dreams where you are trying to speed through quicksand that nearly swallows you), and yet we yearn to soar. To be human, it seems, is to be both earthbound and meant for the sky. Birds embody this feeling for us. They are of the earth and then, in the twinkling of an eye, they are not!
The Bible is full of birdlike stories. Elijah disappears into the clouds in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). Enoch was walking one day with God—and God just whooshed him up to heaven (Genesis 5:24). Though there is no mention of it in Scripture, Catholics love the notion that Mary was “assumed” into heaven. And of course, at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus took flight and disappeared into the clouds (Luke 24:51).
It is important to note what you are attracted to, what makes your pulse leap, what makes you miss a breath—these tell you what your heart longs for. They also tell you your inner identity. What that sparrow tells me this morning is that I am earthbound and heavy and plodding (it’s Monday morning, after all), and that I am also of the sky. She reminds me that like my Master I am both body and spirit, both of this world and not of it, both human and divine.
Today I will plod and soar.