“The place to which God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner
The fireplace is crackling on yet another snow-y day in Texas. The Eastern Bluebirds have been flocking to our feeders with bright coats contrasting against the white and dull of winter. They like to sit on the rim of our trampoline and dive-bomb delicacies among our dormant Bermuda grasses. I spotted 3 or 4 during one of my morning watches as one perched on a sleeping Crape Myrtle near my bedroom window. I quietly eased out my camera with its zoom lens, trying to not make much noise, and briefly captured the orange-chested owner before it flew away.
Then yesterday, we saw our first Robin. My husband educated me from his Midwestern roots about the first sighting meaning Spring is near. So cheers to that.
Each season comes just like clockwork, not always on time, but they come. And as they turn, the magical sense of new-ness and wonder never grows old
It’s no surprise. In life there are always new beginnings. But if we aren’t paying attention, we miss them even as we stand among their midst. They can also catch us by surprise, rapturing joy in us with things like a baby swaddled in the arms of waiting parents, or dreaming with your spouse of future travels during the empty-nest years, or moving the first piece of furniture into a new-to-your-family place, or a raise at a job that infuses your life with hope, and so the list goes.
But to enter a new season, to begin on purpose and with risk, well.
That is another thing all together.
We may not like gambling with our lives. Not every person is prone to adrenaline or the rush of riding roller coasters with hands raised toward the sky in a praise of wild, risky abandon. I’m one who watches, safely from the ground. I like safety, comfort, close friends, and stability, for the most part. Ask my hubby, anytime we talk about business plans that involve some kind of risk, I am overly cautious. I’m slow to acclimate to new endeavors. Unless it involves moving, I’m always ready for that.
The Eastern Bluebird has a bold streak for being flighty as it is. We have two fierce “lions” that stalk the backyard. One slip of a moment, one stealth claw, and it’d be over for such a small creature, but the Bluebirds continue to leave safety for Bermuda. They do what God created them to do even as they’re ready to lift off at the slightest movement or hint of danger.
“Listen to your life. Listen to what happens to you because it is through what happens to you that God speaks.” ~~Frederick Beuchner
God has put a passion in me, things He also created me to do. Mostly that would be a simple praise, love, fellowship, and a heart-to-heart relationship with Him. Yet there’s also those “pit-bull” tendencies, as I call them, which drive me too. In the past, I’ve pushed them down, shoved them aside because they were not convenient. But I decided to “listen” to my life, to uncover the coals of passion buried under years of soot just waiting to be swept away and reignited. I’ve begun to notice them, to fan them in my life and I’ve taken stock of how I want to live my life with them as my companions. I want to explore their possibilities. I want to be afire with them. I’ve begun to see the value of how God refines me with them.
Sometimes that fire ignites on an Autumn Flame Maple tree when one is watching the season, of waiting for timing and paying attention to the small creatures around us which share something about the season we are living. It’s true–passions can go dormant and that is ok. In fact it is more than ok, it is necessary. Dormancy gives us rest which allows new life to spring up, in due time. So we sit in the window seat of our life and we “listen” to it. It’ll be there, perhaps warming by the fire against the frigid, gray air, that we will notice the turning, a time to prepare, a sighting of the changing robin.
Then comes the season where we have the chance to roll up our sleeves, roll up our fear, our self-preservation, and our trembling inability, to begin the work. That is, if we enter the season fully alive and aware. Only God knows what He’s called us to do or not do. We only need to be ready like a tree rooted in the rich soil of Christ, ready for blooming or for baring it all.
And if we are knowing Him, then we trust the process that may be blinding us. We may launch in the dark but we continue to grope for His hem, which in its own strange dance strengthens faith and trust. Even when we don’t see a hand in front of our face, we know that we know that we know, He is there. Somehwere. And we feel our way ’til daybreak.
Our part is to plow in the right season and trust God with the rain. Our part is to be fallowed and fertile, capturing the seeds of our God-given passion, whether it’s to germinate under the dark soil or to be a crop ready for harvest. Regardless, He gives us the Fruit of our labors.
But when the season calls us to spring up, the first movement toward growth may be scary, the second one terrifying, the third one–heart attack worthy. But then the fourth and fifth come and you’re still alive and breathing. It’s no wonder courage is of the heart, the root (etymology) of it being: cœur + -age. When put together, means a heart voyage.
We can learn from bird watching. In it is the perseverance and diligence as watchers, observing small fowl near earth and predators. We can learn the lesson of leaving our treetops, become exposed, and be sustained by the delicacies prepared for us, below. We learn when it’s time to care for our nest, protect it, and when its time to fly. Even though we risk ego’s, pride, opinions, success, or failure, we do not go in ignorance. We’re well aware of what’s at stake. And we take it anyway.
In Christ, we learn to leave the cold rim of safety and dive into what God is asking of us. We may be skittish of what could go wrong, but we puff out our orange chests of courage and give our wings flight.
And we begin the heart voyage.
Q: What season do you find yourself in, today? Do you feel like spring is about to bring something new for you, or is a winter-of-the-soul keeping you dormant? What have you done that required a lot of courage for you to even begin? How would you en-courage someone to begin?