Today did not start so well. My husband is currently away at a Construction Fair in London and so though our dog sleeps on his bed in the kitchen most nights, I decided to have him right next to my bed last night. I know he finds it comforting and needless to say, I do too when I am the only adult in the house.
Jake, our dog, is in the habit of playing with pebbles in his mouth. Not the most tasty of snacks but he sure gets a lot of fun out of those. The problem is that he sometimes swallows them, and I am talking about pebbles the size of small plums. He is only 15 months old, and of course like any youngster, he will do everything and anything in his power to get my attention, and so when the novelty of his toys wears off and mummy no longer wants to play because though I think I am still 18, the aches on my body tell a different story, Jake grabs a pebble and this is sure to get my attention.
Anyway, to cut a long story short or shorter, I got woken up this morning at 5am by the sound of Jake vomiting right next to my bed. It is not as disgusting as it sounds, I promise you. Next thing I know, a pebble comes right out of his stomach onto my bedroom floor. Lovely!! I get up at 5.50 from Monday to Friday, so it was not too bad, but not exactly the alarm bell I was counting on.
Yesterday by contrast, it was a perfect day from beginning to end. The spring sun shone and for the first time in months the temperatures rose to a glorious 16 degrees which in full sun felt more like 20. I took Jake for one of our regular walks and I was blessed to see one of my favourite but very elusive sightings: two beautiful buzzards, male and female, hunting over a field opposite my house. They were such big, majestic, elegant birds. I was made aware of their presence way, way before I actually caught sight of them, because they were making a very distinctive sound as they communicated with each other whilst looking for prey.
Jake was oblivious to it all as I basked in the Spring sunshine with my head pointed towards the heavens and admired the seamless flight of one of the wonders of nature. Birds of Prey have a very special place in my soul. I feel a kind of strange, inexplicable but at the same time familiar connection with them. I can’t explain what it is about them, but when I see one, my heart jumps a beat and everything else around me becomes secondary because I get totally caught up in the moment watching these birds as if time had stopped and nothing else mattered. I am deeply intrigued by them and also filled with admiration for their qualities and magnificence. I can’t explain why I feel like this. It is just part of my make up, I guess.
As I watched them soar above me, I was bewitched by their presence. It is as if they belonged more to another realm than to the natural realm where the rest of living creatures are. When you look in their eye, it is almost like they know something you don’t. It was at that moment caught up in those reflections, that I felt the presence of God strongly imprinted on my soul. I felt God giving me that wonderful picture of what the life of a follower of his son Jesus Christ is supposed to be like: a life full of confidence in the ability to see above and beyond what any other creature on this earth can see, an ability to see not only the bigger picture but also the devil in the detail, literally, and of course the ability to soar to heights were the concerns of this world cannot drag us down, hold us there and rend us ineffective to do good works and to bring light and salt to a decaying world.
Birds of Prey, eagles specially, have this quiet assurance of who they are, and what they can do, and the rest of the animal kingdom has a healthy respect and understanding of their standing within that kingdom and so no other animal dares to mess with them, except of course perhaps for other birds of prey whose pride and confidence may have been blown out of proportion, when they think of themselves higher than they ought to, for ultimately even the eagles are God’s creation and are imperfect.
The day before that I was also blessed during my walk with Jake as I saw two deer, male and female gracing on the field behind my house. They were no more than 20m away from us at one point. As we spotted each other, we both froze on the spot and then simply stared at each other as if enchanted by some mysterious force in the air. By contrast to the eagles and other birds of prey, these animals are very fearful and come across as terribly vulnerable to other beasts and to the dangers of this world in general. They are beautiful, graceful animals nevertheless, and I always cherish these encounters as a treat from above.
Getting back to how my day started today, after the saga with my dog being sick and having survived yet another morning of getting the kids ready for school on time, well fed, clean and well equipped, which is no small feat, I ventured out with the dog yet again for one of our daily walks. Today however, the sun was not shining and there was a stillness in the landscape that numbed the senses. What a contrast with the two days prior, I thought! What a bore!
No sooner had that thought entered my mind, I sensed God raising my awareness about the fact that our relationship with Him, our ability to communicate with Him, to get to know Him, to learn to trust Him should never be dependant on our circumstances, our rare glimpses of Him in the wonders of creation or even in the signs and wonders that He sometimes blesses us with. We are all on a journey; we are all a work in progress and just as we shouldn’t love members of our family any less on the grounds of beauty, personality, or physical or mental ability, we must not resent, ignore or simply discount the dull days, the uneventful days, the quiet days which are an integral part of our journey through learning to know, love and trust God.
I also felt deeply comforted by my Heavenly Father as I sensed him letting me know that His revelation of who He is and of our purpose may not always be made manifest in the signs and the wonders, in the spectacular or in what is beautiful and exceptional. There will also be seasons and to be sure days and days, weeks and weeks, months and even years on end when there will be no eagle or deer sightings, no signs in the sky or a personalised message, no direction from Him, not even a whisper, and yet it is in those very seasons that our trust in Him really is tested and comes to full maturity, because if we learn to rely on Him alone, to trust in Him alone and to wait on Him alone when all is quiet, dull and uneventful, we will develop a much needed attitude of awe and thankfulness for those precious moments when HIS signs and wonders do indeed take place. It will be His presence that we learn to seek after, and not his gifts or what He can give us. We no longer will feel entitlement but will be humbled and grateful for whatever whispers we get from HIM and gradually as we get to know Him more intimately in the good days and the bad ones too, our journey will be all about what we can give back to HIM and others through HIM and not about what we can take for ourselves to be claimed as our own.