Thursday, January 3, 2013

A common bird that I am

In what has become habitual fashion, an irresistibly pull, I stand in my night clothes looking out over the ocean from my bedroom window. It is morning, and the day ahead seems full, duties and obligations pulling at my thoughts, desires to be more-- to be used in a meaningful way in this short life.

I see a small group of ducks flying in the distance over the trees somewhere between my bedroom and the ocean, their silhouettes against a pink sky resembling the common Mallard. I wonder if they see the glistening, wide open ocean to their left. I wonder if there is a curiosity on their part to experience more, to see more. Does adventure lie beyond? Does greater fulfillment lie yonder?

In unison they circle back and head down, probably to a murky pond or a small, unimpressive lake between the train tracks and a row of apartments. They are not made for the ocean. They return to their home, a common place for a common bird. It is a place where the female plucks out her own down feathers from her breast to line a nest and raise her young. They are oblivious to the rest of the world and are devoted to their duty, a simple task designed by God.

I am a common housewife. A homemaker. A teacher to my little flock. In a metaphorical sense, I will show them how to find their food, how to fly, modeling what I was created for. Someday they will take flight and I pray they will circle back to their calling, whatever the particulars of that calling. For now, I pluck my feathers and line my nest for their warmth and safety.

And beneath the covering of my flight feathers, the ones that are visible to the world, my chest feels bare. At times it feels raw.

But it is a sacrifice I make willingly, a sacrifice made by design.

I stand at the checkout line. I sit in the dentist chair. I meet a new hair stylist. "So, what do you do?" they ask. I tell them, trying to make a common task impressive.

"Oh," they respond in a forced melodious tone, a tone that betrays sincerity. It is a mocking tone that still jabs.

The world views anything better than motherhood. Packing grocery bags, picking at people's teeth, beautifying the exterior. Anything but living life for another. Anything but nurturing souls. Anything but self-sacrifice and self-denial. Because the world is big and has lots to offer, you know. And the confines of home, what does that have to offer?

But it is my calling. A design for my life. And I believe that in the self-sacrifice, if offered up with thanksgiving, there I will find a satisfying work for my life. This satisfaction is not so much found in being a wife and mother, since these roles are obviously not God's plan for everyone, but a calling of self-denial and of living for the good of others as a thankful sacrifice to God. That is my calling. And in the emptying of self, I look to Him to fill me up.

Yes, I have a desire to do more, to be more. Yet it is not outside of this little nest, of this unremarkable life. It's a pull I can't ignore.

I came across these words a while back and saved them to my computer. I don't know the context from which they were taken, but I did google the words to find that they come from In His Steps, chapter 7, by Charles M. Sheldon. They describe my thoughts, an inescapable longing of sort...

“I want to do something that will cost me something in the way of sacrifice. I know you will not understand me. But I am hungry to suffer for something. What have we done all our lives for the suffering..?

How much have we denied ourselves or given of our personal ease and pleasure to bless the place in which we live or imitate the life of the Savior of the world?

Are we always to go on doing as society selfishly dictates, moving on its little narrow round of pleasures and entertainments, and never knowing the pain of things that cost?”

There is a bird singing outside my window right now.

I think I just may look for an opportunity to take my kids to the duck pond this afternoon.


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