It caught me for its otherness.
I’d sat there in the park awhile, playful breezes teasing my skin, spring sunshine sweet-talking my spirit. Bird chatter provided a boisterous sound track while I held my pen poised over my journal, listening for the story my Shepherd might write.
I closed my eyes and began counting songs. How many variances of pitch and inflection, mood and meaning, sounded over my head? Three? Seven? Ten? I lost track as warbles melded into white noise.
Suddenly my eyes popped open. A two-note melody, almost human in expression, cut through the background buzz and sweetened the air like jam on brie. Poetry, pure and unselfconscious. Unobtrusive yet unmistakable. Just so, and just right.
Filled and free
My pen wasn’t moving yet, but my thoughts were. They were traveling back to the previous Saturday when my sweet daughter-in-law Molly had spoken to our church women.
As she spoke of her journey to understand how fully loved she is by Christ, we each looked around to see if others were pointing at us. But they weren’t; they were too busy recognizing the truth of her words in their own experience.
We each recognized—
—our own need to be affirmed by others
—our own drive to prove ourselves as worthy
—our own insecurity when walking into a room and being ignored
We recognized any number of things that showed we have a long way to go in accepting how loved we truly are. Any number of things that prevented us from singing the song of love we were meant to sing.
As Molly put it, “Sometimes we chain ourselves to ourselves.”
Then she spoke of how a deep understanding of God’s love for us will free us from these self-imposed chains so that we can love others, without traces of self-consciousness or self-doubt. She took us to Galatians 5:13:
For you were called to freedom, brethren,
only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh
but through love serve one another.
Do you see it? This key that unlocks the song of love we are each made to sing? We are filled to the brim with God’s love. So we are fully free to love others.
As I sat in the park thinking about Molly’s words, the little bird kept offering its two-note song. My pen began moving in jerks and stops as awkward prayers poured out:
I want to be this whistler … not self-aware, not vying for attention, not trying to measure up or outdo. Just holding close the song You’ve given me, singing as my glad heart prompts me to … Because, simply, I am loved and there is nothing preventing me from bringing beauty and gladness to my world.
A timely tale
Two days after my epiphany in the park, I read a short story written by a good friend of mine, Chuck Hay. It’s a tale of a little bird named Asteria who has lost her voice. (Spoiler alert.) After much wandering and searching for answers, she encounters a young boy who has asked his mother why birds sing. His mother’s answer?
I think the most important reason
why birds sing is that all the rest of us …
can feel just a little bit of
the wonder and the joy and the happiness of being alive
when they sing to us.
As these words penetrate the little bird’s heart, she finds her voice and her song begins again.
Singing for all we’re worth
Can you hear the mallet staking down the canvas of truth as you read this tale?
I can. With each stroke it reminds me: The Father has filled my love cup to overflowing; the Spirit has freed me to love others from the overflow. I can sing this two-note song of Filling and Freedom to my world, showing them that they, too, are very loved.
Friends, as I write today, I long to sing into the wind, devil-may-care. Loving for all I’m worth, shedding tears and hugging tight. Taking crazy risks because I’m crazy-loved.
Will you sing with me?
Singing the Shepherd’s song,