The Bird and the Wire

Bird in flightSummer mornings, I walk the gravel line between the drone of highway traffic and the twitter of birds in the pasture. A road that knows few cars and fewer houses, its ditches prosper rabbits and bees and the birds which lay down my morning soundtrack. I rarely notice the animals when I walk. Because I’m prone to tumble, I tend to keep my eyes fixed on at the ever-changing place where my feet meet the road. It’s hard to watch with my eyes glued to the ground.

Even so, one morning I noticed a movement in the ditch. A bird flew straight up the front of the fence barrier that separates our rural road from the local four-lane. She fluttered up, past row after row of squares, squares not wide enough for her wingspan. After passing the top one, she squeezed underneath the sagging barbed wire strung across the top and continued her ascent on the other side.

She could have avoided that precarious squeeze. There was plenty of space on the country side for her to rise into the air, space which looked safer, smarter, and better. In just a few inches she could have crossed over without wedging herself between the wires, if only she had looked up instead of straight ahead.

Because I tend to anthropomorphize the natural world, projecting onto it qualities which belong to humans, I wondered what she was thinking.  Why would she make that squeeze when she would have been free to fly wherever she wanted had she waited just a second longer? Why would she take what looked like a dangerous way when safety waited just inches above? Was she trying to challenge herself?

A bird’s life doesn’t require additional challenge. It revolves around survival. Find food. Avoid danger. Evade predators.

It looked to me that maybe she flew just the way I walked, eyes fixed just ahead, just far enough to see the next thing, oblivious to all the rest.

Like the bird, I’ve sometimes got my eye open for the first out. In marriage, in motherhood, and even in own my mind, I’m tempted to look for the easiest way through even though I know that in everything that matters there is no easy way and the first out is almost always a bad idea.

The bird made it through the barbs and on to freedom. She avoided the hazardous wires. She survived.

That was enough for her.

But you and I were intended for more than a song bird’s life, crafted for more than mere survival. We were made to sing, but when our vision is focused on finding the first out, the song can get lost–if ever it is sung at all.

A bird’s song is its song. It can’t sing a new tune. A cardinal sounds like a cardinal, a chickadee like a chickadee.

We, however, can sing most any tune we want. Often the most beautiful melodies are hard-won, springing from waiting places, dark places, places of weariness and discouragement that try the soul, the ones where the temptation to take the first out is strong.

But we weren’t made for escape. We were made for something more, to be drawn out by the God who loves us and to sing his song. And sometimes, it’s in those hard places that we discover the melody.

Bird New song

Grown up life brings with it more hard places than easy ones. What is the nature of your place today? What is your song?

Linking this week with the writers at Thought Provoking Thursday and Small Wonders.

14 thoughts on “The Bird and the Wire

  1. Beautiful message! I understand wanting to keep our eyes on the path. It’s like by expectation, we’re inviting pain (i.e. a fall) – but the soul liberation of looking outward – at what He has for us – you describe it so gently – so very beautifully!

  2. What a lovely reflection Natalie. Thanks for joining us at #SmallWonder. I wonder if that bird wasn’t enjoying herself? Just having fun with a challenge? Who knows. But that’s what I like to think. Yes, beautiful songs do often come from hard-won places – that’s where we often find the freedom needed to soar.

  3. Natalie, this is so beautiful. God teaches many, many lessons through watching the birds. We live in the Seattle are and have 3 feeders and 2 fountains on our deck, along with 2 sets of binoculars close by. Birdsong wakes me up most mornings and puts me to sleep at night.
    I love it all…

  4. “But you and I were intended for more than a song bird’s life, crafted for more than mere survival. We were made to sing, but when our vision is focused on finding the first out, the song can get lost–if ever it is sung at all.” Yes, this, such truth. And a beautiful graphic. Thank you for your insight.

  5. oh, this is beautiful. i resonate with seeing truth/lessons in nature. I enjoyed the read and was reminded again of how God speaks to us. Our place has been one of dreams interrupted and perhaps redirected in another direction, looking different that we thought. Yet just yesterday we saw with new eyes something that happened 20 years ago. My dad always said we must remain faithful so we are around to see how God used us when we had no idea.

    • New eyes for something from 20 year ago…now that is beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing where you are and what you are learning with your life. I’m so thankful for the many ways that God reminds us of his truths and for eyes to see them.

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