Minister’s Moment, August 2018
A few weeks ago, Casey and I spent some vacation time in Minnesota. While staying with friends in the Cooper neighborhood of Minneapolis we were invited into a charming, annual neighborhood ritual: waiting for the baby bald eagles to leave their nest.
“Did you see the eagles today? Do you think the babies are ready to fly?” neighbors eagerly asked on walks around the neighborhood.
It turns out that a bald eagle family has been nesting in the tall, majestic white pine tree around the corner from our friends’ house for the past few years. Every spring they return, the female lays her eggs, and the eagle couple raises the babies up together.
For 10-12 weeks after they hatch the babies stay in the nest. They are getting ready to fledge or take flight for the first time. As the time gets closer they practice by sitting on the edge of the nest, talons holding tight on the branch and wings flapping furiously. It was a thrill to watch them get closer and closer to flight every day.
“You can do it!” I thought. “Just let go and fly!”
Letting go is not easy. Releasing our grip on the familiar and known is downright terrifying. But this month at Peoples Church we are going to give it a try. Together we are going to spread our wings, let go of what holds us back, and learn how to fly.
As we begin this journey I wanted to share a reading with you that I have been sitting with this summer, Untried Wings by Elizabeth Tarbox:
Hollow bones, streamlined feathers, and wings shaped to push aside the viscosity of air are not what make birds fly.
Birds let go of their grasp on safe perches at the tops of trees because something calls to them. They unfold their untried wings and feel an unimagined power. They soar out, up, and through the winter sky because an ancient longing pulls them home.
Loosed from the sticky grasp of earth, free from the snarls of lesser creatures with daggers in their teeth and muscles in their legs, birds laugh upward, homeward, drawn by a calling which bids them welcome in the sky.
Bird, take me with you when you go. Oh not my lumbering body and knitted tissue, no.
Take some other me with you, some invisible soul of me that hears the call you hear, that moves effortlessly with you through the bright pink silk of dawn and the warm butter spread of morning. Carry my longing to be weightless, to move as light moves, to be unseen, scattered through time and space. Teach me to trust my wings.