Sunday, November 4, 2012

Watching Birds Fly South

As I sat drinking coffee and enjoying the Fall morning, I kept seeing dark flickers from the corner of my eye. Looking out, I saw drifting shapes dipping and dodging past my window.  Squinting without my glasses, I thought I can't believe that many birds are flying past. Then I thought I can't believe that many leaves are falling. Then I realized that it was birds and leaves swirling madly.

I walked to the window to get a closer look because I have always loved watching birds.  I raised my son to enjoy the delight of observing their daily antics. I've probably written at least twenty poems about them. As I looked over the fence, I saw that there were more birds than leaves, and they whirled dizzily as one, shifting direction effortlessly.

Like a giant, undulating, black sheet, they settled into the neighbor's backyard. A few of the small, glistening black bodies stalked stiffly along the fence top. More stragglers continued to whirl and alight. I wondered what in the world they were after as they mixed with the carpet of colorful leaves, making a darker carpet themselves. They were too little to be crows, unless they were young crows, which I don't recall ever seeing.

This fascinating activity reminded me of when my siblings and I were young. We used to lie on our backs in the grass, and watch the birds fly south every fall, without fail. Fall was a real three-month season and the birds left, making a spectacular show of their departure. Some made V-formations, and some flocks just swirled and whirled several times, before making a final pass over to wave goodbye.

I lamented on why I haven't seen the birds fly south since childhood. We know the answers to that are many. Things always change.  Nothing stays the same. The cry of the aging.
I don't even live in the same locale where I enjoyed this show-stopping finale to hot summer days.  We know from what the Bible teaches us that this world is not going to remain as it is anyway.  John, when he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos, received visions of a new heaven and earth.  He reported that the first heaven and the first earth were passed away (Revelations 21:1). In Genesis 2:19, we are told that God formed every fowl of the air out of the ground.  Interestingly, in Leviticus 14, I learned that the Lord instructed Moses to use birds in the cleansing of lepers.  Other than this, and the mention of specific birds in priestly ceremonies, and owls being unclean, I found only cursory mention of birds as a whole in the Bible.

Will there be birds in the new Heaven and the new Earth?  I don't know.  I don't feel a need to research it. I do know what I would say if God asked me this question, Daughter, what is one minor thing that you would like to do again before you leave this earth?  I would respond, Father, I would like to lie in the grass, look at the sky, and watch birds fly south.

Image Credit: ob1left

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