Thursday, October 14, 2010

For Me, It's Birds

The other morning, I strapped Allyson into the dilapidated bike trailer that she's almost outgrown, and we set off for the babysitter's house in the gentle warmth of the mid-morning sun. There was a hint of a bite to the crisp air, and I savored this perfect fall weather, such a sharp contrast from the brutal summer heart that had stretched on and on.

The Trailer Before It Was Dilapidated (8/2008)
Allyson prattled on behind me, her voice muffled by the plastic rain/wind shield. "Mmm hmm, baby," I answered at intervals, and she replied, "Huh? What did you say, Mommy?"

Finally we both gave up, and I just drank in the beauty all around me. Many of the crepe myrtle trees are still in bloom, especially the bright fucshia ones, and there were many other purple, yellow, and red flowers that I couldn't name. "Beautiful," I murmured, glancing heavenward.

As usual, the ride home was even better. That time alone, with the sun on my face and the profusion of colors all around, and the steady pump of my laboring heart, is like... church. I feel so close to God, alone and yet not alone. It's my very favorite prayer time, though sometimes I have to refrain from moving my lips because of the passing cars.

On this particular morning, I prayed fervently for a friend who's been very sick. "Give her joy in your strength today," I asked. Remembering Isaiah 12:3, a verse from this week's Bible study lesson, I added, "Let her drink with joy from the wells of salvation. And let rivers of living water flow from her belly."

Just as those words left my lips, a bird flew out of a tree to my left and soared into the sky, passing so close to my face that I could see and hear the flapping of its wings. I laughed with joy because I saw that humble brown bird as my friend, set free of the weights that have held her down and flying up, up, high above her suffering.

Seeing that bird reminded me of another encounter with a bird, about three years ago. I was pushing Allyson in the stroller after walking Ethan to school one fall morning, much like the one I just described. It had rained recently, and I saw a bird drinking from a puddle. As we approached, it fluttered up into the bright morning sun.
"Oh Lord, thank you. It's so-"

I never finished my sentence because at that moment an almost audible voice filled my mind. "Come and drink."

Normally when God speaks to me, it feels like part of my thoughts, and I'm never entirely sure it's really Him. But the way He interrupted me that time, I just knew the thought was not my own.

"Oh God, thank you," I thought. "Tell me more. How do I come and drink? What do I need to do exactly?"

I didn't hear anything else, yet I still knew what He was saying somehow. "That's the whole point, isn't it? I don't have to DO anything, just come and drink like that bird. Oh, help me do that!"

For years, I've sensed God's presence through birds. I think that feeling started when God led me to one of my favorite memory passages, in which Jesus promises to feed and clothe us just as he cares for the birds of the air. Every time I hear a bird sing I remember that promise, and it makes me feel loved and secure. So whenever I see birds, I thank God for them (except when they are tormenting Lola in the backyard).

How does God speak to you? Do you hear him in your thoughts? Through scripture? Through someone else's words? Is there some special sign He gives you that reminds you of His love?

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