LESSONS FROM THE BIRDS OF THE AIR

July 18, 2017

 

THOUGHTS ON MATTHEW 6: 19-34

 

For years I wanted to fly freely like the birds. Sometimes I would find a beach and just sit there to watch the seagulls. Arriving at the beach, in a flock, the birds would descend to the sand and, sifting through to look for food they would have disputes over what they found. Then, often ascending into the air afterwards, some would continue trying to peck the morsel of food out of the other's beaks! After expressing their annoyances with each other, they would then fly away, seemingly in peace.

 

During the spring of every year I have watched young birds descending from their nests in the trees and nervously yet joyously attempt to fly accompanied by their parents who appear to squawk with worry and concern over their vulnerable offspring. When these birds eventually get enough practice, find the confidence and take off their joy is almost palpable. But, birds can also grieve, a friend once found a nest where the babies had died, the parents stayed there for days to mourn, and then eventually flew away. So, with no apparent consolation for loss, the memories are still there, and are still carried. We often live in mourning. Life can be full of sadness, worry, responsibility, survival, burdens, adventure and joy. It is a mix of everything. For me, long term grieving took over most of my life with loss of self due to illness, and bereavement from being separated from my mother as a child and never finding her again. To help me with life's burdens I sometimes watch the wild birds to help me live more in the present. Sometimes we feel so heavy it is as though we are tethered, and can't fly, but then when our worries lighten we may feel like soaring, and this is something I aspire to, but still find difficult!  

 

When we read Matthew chapter 6: verses 19-34 we discover an invitation to adventure and freedom! Firstly, we are encouraged to make treasures of a spiritual kind, such as the showing of kindness and thoughtfulness to others. Imagine these as a necklace in a treasure chest, not in our earthly homes, but in the divine dimension. Also, threaded on the necklace are those gifts and abilities that we have forged when needing to survive in difficult times and these enhance us and stay with us. We may not always realise what these abilities are at first but they are treasures of gold, because we keep going and, drawing on these treasures, we can help others do the same.

 

The passage in Matthew chapter 6, invites us to look through our circumstances and, hard as they are, we're encouraged not to be weighed down, (easier said than done!). We're invited to accept what God could give us, rather than relying on what we insist we want. We're also encouraged not to worry about having job titles, we're us and job roles come and go. Jesus suggests we take a walk and look at the wildflowers; have we noticed all of them? When we see the petals shaped in intricate designs and marvel at the colours we are reassured that we will be looked after, even though it may not always feel like that.

 

The passage is an invitation to rest, handing over our worries, and learning to live in a new simpler way like the wild birds. When difficult situations gather around us like stormy clouds this is also an invitation to get to know the mysterious, divine rescue of God. Whatever we fear we might encounter, somehow God has gone on ahead to be there, even though none of our journeys are easy, and the struggle can remain.

 

In our divine treasure chests are also the yearnings we have threaded on our necklaces and these are our secret treasures. Maybe it's an ambition, maybe it's a resolution, whatever we yearn for we co-create with God to see how this may come about. Your secret treasure might be a glimmer of something you have always wanted to do, but don't know how to go about it. It could be buried under doubt of how this would be achieved, or doubt of self. To me this passage also contains an invitation for God to open doors and close doors, God can intervene to lighten and turn around painful pasts, and new doors can open to what we would really like to create with divine help. Our secret ambition may not always happen in exactly the way we want, but can come in a way that could be more suited for us.

 

Matthew chapter 6: verses 19-34 is a passage full of invitations in our lives to trust, to live, and to hope for heartbreaking situations to being helped. It is an invitation to make divine jewellery and receive blessings that can defy logic. It's an invitation that sometimes does not seem real, because of life's circumstances, but it is an invitation to keep going and take time out to learn other perspectives.

 

 

 

Angela Harper

Author,  Finding a Way Ahead!

 

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