Tuesday, January 11, 2011

a different sort of different

We moved to Chicago in July after 12 years living in Europe. The first month here I saw no fewer than 5 cardinals in our neighborhood within a span of just a few weeks. It sounds silly, but God spoke to me through that. I never recalled seeing a cardinal in Europe and I rarely saw them before that, so to see 5 in that short of a time span meant something to me. It was as if God was saying, “I’m going to do something different now.”

…………………………………………………….

It has been six months since those cardinal days. I haven’t seen another one since then.

Transition has been hard. God is doing something different but I didn’t expect it to be “different” of the “difficult” variety.

……………………………………………………………….

We had lots of snow in December, but all of it melted away as warmer temperatures and rain came.

It began snowing again last night and is snowing as I write this. It is the Winter Wonderland kind of snow. The kind that is able to awaken spiritual sensibilities, instill joy in the midst of sadness. The ground is covered again. The trees in front of me seem like the shadow side of God’s tiny angelic host, gathered to hug creation and praise its Maker. Cold flakes have the capacity to warm a heart.

…………………………………………………..

Heather helped Meaghan get ready last night for her 8th grade graduation picture. They were in Meg’s bathroom primping for some time when I went to find out what they were up to. As I approached them both, I was struck dumb with their beauty.

My little girl is growing up.

She put her special dress on today and I took a few pictures, wanting to capture this moment.

………………………………………………………………………………

I dropped the kids off at school and proceeded to the post box to deliver a piece of mail.

I am on the way home now, walking up the street behind us. It is quiet, no cars, no people around. The snow continues coming down, making a statement without speaking a single word. Soft, gentle, yet powerful.

As I walk, I hear a chirp above me. It is the only sound I hear. It is as if God is calling me again.

Another cardinal? I haven’t seen one since July. What happened to them? Did God change his mind?

“I could sure use another cardinal, Lord.”

I look around and see nothing, so I keep walking.

Two, three steps and—

There it is again! That chirp! Beautiful.

I look some more—this time looking behind me and up.

I scan the tree, still noth—Wait! There it is!

A different bird, with a large orange breast. I could make out the grey flecks on her wings, see the reflection in her beak, the glint in her eye.

She seemed to be looking at me. Wanting to make sure I saw her.

She was out of her nest, perched a little lower than usual.

Sometimes God appears as a bird in my neighborhood. He is hidden. I have to look for him in the tree branches and I don’t see him on the first pass. His call is ever-so brief but it does stand out among the other sounds--if it is quiet enough around me and if my heart is quiet enough to befriend the silence. If I don’t hear him on the first call, he’ll call again. The God above time does not need even one second to speak. A chirp is enough.

Which street will I find him on tomorrow, I wonder. Which bird will he be?

The days are coming when God will do a different sort of “different.” It will be a good sort of different so, until it happens, I’ll wait for that day with as much courageous patience as I can muster and enjoy the snowy street.

For now, heart: record what you hear and mark what you see.

1 comment:

Cate said...

Thanks for your view of the snow... It was slightly annoying for me to trudge through to class today and it delayed Will's flight for 2 hours, but you reminded me of its beauty. I hope that Meg and Nick are enjoying their new school here in Chi-town. If you ever need anything I can help with, I'm in Elgin, not too far from you guys. God Bless!