Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The unsilenced chorus from unexpected places

4:36 am.  

I open the door and step through to darkness and downpour, but it's a darkness pregnant with life, a downpour quivering with song.  It's a rare pause at the start of my day, when I'm aware that day has begun without me, before me, and I am nothing but a guest treading lightly on hallowed ground.  My feet seem to know this instinctively, standing rooted to the concrete porch, if you can call it that, that connects our home with our neighbors'.  I drink in songs from birds hidden in tree tops and the world outside my door is auditorium, and my heart bows low.

I want to know the songs they sing.  I want to stand here in the rain soaked air beneath this canopy to hear their voices instead of rushing to my car to sit in silence.  I want to kneel here as their worship floods the sky.  

There's otherwordly beauty held in these songs, carried in the stature of a bird.  

It's in the great blue heron along the shores of the lake, the way they crane their necks in graceful forward plunge as they stalk slowly through the water, one big, spindly legged step and then another.  The way their feathers ruffle down their chests, a long fringe cumberband.  And it's how they tuck their silver heads with the stripe down the middle and run pointed bills down their feathered bodies.

It's in the bald eagles, perched taut and still on each end of a log submerged as the tide comes in, slight head movements watching, waiting.  Aged hunters, from centuries of history and folklore, they sit and testify, of life cycling on, enveloping us in something older and bigger than we have seen with our eyes.  

It's even here in the trees lining sidewalks and on the telephone wires above, the crows and the pigeons, the robins and sparrows, and all the 'common' ones I pass by without really seeing.  Nothing, no nothing, is common. 

It's as Tim Dee wrote in his A year on the wing, where the mundane to many of us becomes poetry and meditation,

"What they do and how they do it, 
the same over and over, 
gives their lives alongside ours an expression 
or a pattern in the air that can seem like art or ritual, 
as if they are deeper in the world than us, 
more joined to it, 
as we might dream it only."

And doesn't my soul hunger for this, to know and see and taste and feel the holy of God through the rain and the dark, the song and the seagull, the music blowing across tree tops in a language that calls unto deep?  

To know the songs of the birds and the artistry of God in creation, enveloping our world in beauty and grace, even as tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes and famines, bombings and war, tragedies and terminal diagnoses sound a deafening roar. 

Even in the dark, in the rain, before the day breaks open, there sings an unsilenced chorus of praise from the humblest of places.   



  1. oh Amber, you still me like no other. truly, truly.
    thank you for this. it is worship of the purest kind.

    1. thank you, dear friend. it's lovely, how your sharing of moments spurs me to worship, too... and in writing, it's like God multiplies the worship.

  2. Dear Amber
    When you look at the birds and the "common" things in this way and you feel that deep longing in your heart, you can be sure that you are experiencing God in a deep way!!!

    1. Amen, Mia! Those are the most precious of moments.

  3. Amber, I love your wonder and awe through the tales of birds...this gets my nature and poetry-loving soul down deep! And though I'm crazy about it all, the line that gets me is "Nothing, no nothing is common!" Amen!
    By the way, this reminded me some of Louise Erdrich's "The Blue Jay's Dance," which is filled with gorgeous descriptions of birds and why they matter. Have you read her? (That's the only one of hers I've read.) You, dear friend, write of nature and life and detail and mystery so well. I love you.

    1. I'll have to check Louise Erdrich out, Ash - thank you. I never, ever imagined I would become one of 'those' bird lovers ;-) Totally geeky, but they sing and whisper God to me, and I just eat it up. I'm glad we can be nature and poetry and God lovers together. I love you.