Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, September 10, 2023
My sister does not like birds. Apparently this stems from a time long ago when she involuntarily had to watch part or all of Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie, “The Birds.”
I, however, steer clear of such anxiety-producing productions and am very fond of birds. No matter where we’ve lived, our morning walks have always been brightened by birds. (Although the day a pheasant shot straight up in the air from the ditch close beside me, I was more frightened than brightened.)
Many years ago our morning walks included a stretch of road where a large flock of pigeons treated us every day to an aerobatic display. They would soar high in the sky before us, than turn over in unison on some silent cue, switching from gray to bright white as they swirled. It was a magnificent sight that made my heart soar with them and laugh with delight, every time.
Our landlord told us they were roller pigeons, and belonged to a family that lived down the road. He pointed out the house, so that Christmas we packaged up some cookies and ventured down the road and up to their house, to thank them for treating the neighborhood to such wonderful birds. Their house and fence were all festive with colored lights, but they didn’t answer the door. We hadn’t prepared a note, so we trudged back home with our cookies, and continued to enjoy their pigeons.
Then one morning the birds were absent. We missed them. The next morning they were again no-shows. A third morning, they were still missing and I was mournful. I don’t remember how many days dragged by.
One morning I was fussing out loud as we walked down that stretch of the road. Where were the birds? Why had they disappeared? What happened? Would we ever see them again?
Then I stopped, mid-fuss, as two small feathers floated down from the sky and landed at my feet. I stared at them, then looked up at a very tall tree beside the road. At least one of “my” birds must be up there somewhere . . .
And then I had to laugh. Was God also laughing? Was He fed up with my grumbling, and sending me a couple of feathers to let me know He was still around, invisible but real?
The feathers weren’t talking, so I don’t know. But I do know that I picked up those two small feathers and kept them. (I’m sure they’re safe and sound, deep within some box in our garage.)
I kept them because they remind me that sometimes I can’t see God actively at work to settle all my problems, heal all my friends, and immediately point out the exact choices I should make. He sometimes seems missing, and silent. But as I keep talking to Him, it’s as if He sends me a few feathers of reminders that He’s still here with me, still loving me, still caring for me and mine.
When I saw the much larger, and solitary, feather this week, it brought back memories of my long-ago feathers, and I immediately wanted to share the story with you. I took this photo rather than rummage in the garage.
How many of the Psalms cry out for God to show up and do something! Take action – the more dramatic, the better! Although these Psalms may express deep sorrow, or fear, or anguish, they most often turn, as our roller pigeons turned, and conclude with a confident statement of trust that God would surely come through for them.
Psalm 13 voices even more questions than I asked when my pigeons failed to show up, but hang on for its conclusion:
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
And my pigeons? They reappeared and resumed their aerobatic displays. I rejoiced, and did not take their presence for granted.
As we move out into this brand-new week, we may not always see His face, but we can look for His feathers. Psalm 91:4 reassures us that, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.”