A wing and a prayer . . .
This morning I prayed in darkness. And then I saw a great light.
It was the sun. Filling up the all of the cold morning.
My husband called me into the kitchen.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sparrow breathe,” he said. Not taken to fits of poetry or even flowery prose, he had to be speaking literally. He began to explain. It seems that the sun is at just the right mid-winter angle to fill our backyard bird feeder with light. If they perched just right the birds at the breakfast buffet were silhouetted by the rising sun. As they took their turns and tilted their heads just so, puff, their tiny warm breath exhaled in a little cloud.
I stood peering out the window over the kitchen sink to catch a glimpse of this early morning miracle. A red bird (which poet Mary Oliver in her newest collection Red Bird calls “the inexplicable beauty of heaven”) flourished his feathers and sat down for some granola crunch. As he tucked into the seeds, tossing out what didn’t suit him, he turned just so, and exhaled. Puff. So exquisite. Life’s very breath exhaled in a wisp of cloud lit by the sun.
I gasped in delight. (And reached for my camera.)
A half hour later I was helping my daughter with her shower. She was singing with gusto . . . I didn’t recognize words or tune. The song was filling up the all the warm bathroom and spilling out into the rest of the house. I couldn’t make out a single word.
Ah Ya Nee
Va Na Na Bo
Ya Van Nor
Al La La Na
When I opened the curtain there she stood warm and wet as the red bird was cold and dry. I couldn’t see her breath, but it filled her lungs and the room with her passionate joy at singing her song.
“What are you singing?” I asked.
She gave me a few more lines, like I might recognize it. Like I should know it. Like I sang it last Sunday in church or something.
“Oh,” I smiled.
“It’s called ‘The Lord,’” she said. “I mean ‘The People Love the Lord’ Mom.” She belted out a few more lines.
Ala Ne Na Na
Va Ba Ne Ya Na
I helped her wash her hair. I smiled while I scrubbed and she sang.
This evening as the great light slips to the horizon, I am high above the earth (the captain says 30,000 feet) winging my way to the frozen north. Child-song and bird-breath fill my mind spilling out and overflowing to my grateful heart.
Appearing. Revealing. Manifesting.
The mysteries of God made known to us . . . in bird-breath and child-song. Simple yet full moments of grace. In this season of appearing, revealing and manifesting, I will try to hold these images and sounds close so they might reshape my breath and song, and I might slip a little closer to the mysteries of God.
What will you hold close?