Merlin, the Cornell Lab Bird ID App makes every walk better. Instead of listening to the constant chatter inside my brain, it has me attending to the bird song all around me. At the push of a button, I am recording and the app (and I) are listening, patiently. We wait and wonder together until, like magic, the app produces images of the bird who is singing and calling to me. Or perhaps several suggestions of who it might be. It’s not always sure, but it usually designates a “most likely” candidate.
How cool, I got to wondering, would it be if I had a God ID App. You know, point and record, and my phone tells me whether what I am listening to is God.
Wow. That is rich. Would my phone explode with God-sightings? Yeah, that one and that one, too and that over there and… OR, would I, after waiting a good long while eagerly anticipating the undeniable God-moment, give up in frustration when my App wasn’t able to definitively conclude that God was within hearing. A still small voice is, after all, a very difficult thing to hear. Not sure we can rely on technology to detect it.
Still smiling, I move along the meandering path, phone recorder at the ready. I do not hurry. I am listening. Along the way I greet the dog walkers I pass with what is probably a little more enthusiasm than is called for. The pups seemed especially glad to see me. I excuse myself when, in my attention to the App, I veer a little more on their side than is allowed.
Then, I hear the perfect bird. It’s singing solo up in the branches to my left. I point my phone in its direction, punch up the recording and wait. Northern Mockingbird, it tells me. Wait, it also might be a Brown Thrasher.
Then I see it. Perfectly illuminated in the dense green of the tree. Unmistakable. RED. It’s a male cardinal. I look and listen. I can see the sounds coming from its beak. Its partner flies in to greet it. Female cardinal for sure. Merlin App, you have failed.
Wow. Wonder if I can trust this App at all. Maybe it’s been messing with me all along.
So much for that God App idea. Clearly, these human-made versions are only so good. But, still, there is something about the walking while not hurrying, the listening, the expectation, even the waiting… that all felt pretty darn good. Sort of like an inward glow of positivity. Hopeful. Friendly. Constructive. Creative. Maybe there’s something to this.
Perhaps I don’t need an App at all. Maybe I have all I need, not at my fingertips, but at my disposal. If I wander and listen and wait patiently, love will show up.
I wonder what those dogs saw in me.
Love opens courage steps harm threatens danger waits. Love opens timid stays winds blow through and through. Unlove stands in the way that it does; preying on timid obstructing, obscuring, swirling, gusting. Love moves the way that it can; creating chances opening options softening, seasoning. Love opens minds and hearts, doors and windows. Clearing channels of communication finding its way. Love opens onto a way of saying what needs saying. Love builds by invisible hands which craft and construct, mend and heal. Love dreams -- real as any hard fact so we wait, we hope. Love imagines what can happen when soul by soul together we pray. Where unlove shouts, "Make way!" Love makes a way where there was no way so good can go about its business turning knobs and carrying brides across thresholds. Behold There's a space for the love of God to fill me when I open up; empty lungs want air parched mouth wants drink panging stomach wants food the seeking soul opens for sustenance, moment by moment. Me me Me me Me me the baby birds cry, asserting themselves. fill me. feed me. pick me. Love does
So much casting shame and guilt.
So much accusing of conspiracy and falsehood.
So much indicting for behaviors unbecoming and deeds unwelcome.
So much righteous indignation.
So much misunderstanding.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1: 18-19)
Joseph, the faithful, had every right to cast out his young bride-to-be, who apparently, was not. And yet… he grew curious about how this came to be. He questioned how it may have come about. He deliberated on the action he was about to take. He wondered if there was more to this story than he yet knew. And then,
an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-22)
Who am I falsely accusing?
What conclusion am I jumping to?
Where have I misread, mistrusted, and misunderstood?
How, in my righteousness, which I have called faithfulness
have I hurried to divorce – even quietly –
rather than consideration, consolation, provision?
Where, in my failure to be curious,
have I rushed to the … and now!
rather than abiding in the … and yet?
Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.