Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Cardinal

I have a childhood memory of a beautiful cardinal that took up residence next to our house.
  Each year,  we came to an expectation of this cardinal returning to our residence.
My brother had a big bush like tree outside his window and the cardinal loved to be in that tree. The cardinal seemed to even more want to try to be inside his room, as nearly every day, we'd find the bird attempting to fly into the house, only to find the window closed and smack itself into the glass.
 The cardinal was by no means a pet, but we came to enjoy the bird and expect its return each year. Some days, it would fly around to the front of the house. Mom had beautiful, large windows in the kitchen, and as we would stand at the sink doing dishes, we could see into the bushes out front. There, we would sometimes find the cardinal with what we saw as its partner.
   But the primary place we found the bird to reside was near my brother's window.
One year, we heard the cardinal's song, but could not find it in the bushes when we looked. Upon further examination, we found the cardinal to be on the ground, wounded. Perhaps it attempted to fly into the window too many times. Or perhaps it grew old and could not do what had in the past.
  we will likely never know, but the memory of that cardinal still makes me smile, especially any time I see one today. My kids have probably heard me tell the story a hundred times, any time we see a cardinal ourselves. My brother would remember that cardinal very well himself. Sometimes a simple picture just sticks with you.
 Perhaps because of that cardinal, I have always had a tender place for the beauty of birds. Perhaps finding that cardinal singing, while even injured on the ground is what is impressed upon my heart at times. Perhaps because I have a tendency to worry, and God addresses worry in reference to birds, gives me a relation to that cardinal in some aspect as well.
 My daughter starts back to school today, and as she sat last night and began to have tears of worry, I found myself again thinking about the cardinal. And telling Elizabeth about the verse found in Matthew.
 It says " Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one bit to your stature?" Matthew 6:25-27
  I love that verse. I am a worrier by nature. But that verse so often reminds me how silly that is. And the cardinal only makes the point even stronger in my mind. That cardinal, as stubborn as it was, never got its wish to be inside the window. But it was always taken care of nonetheless.
 How much more will God take care of my needs??!  How can we not smile at that fact?
 When the cardinal was injured, we hated that. But the fact that though it was injured and yet still chirping and singing a beautiful song also makes a strong point. Sometimes our hearts are injured but we can still carry a beautiful song as well.
 This morning I read a poem that spoke volumes upon this lesson, so I close with this:
  Once I heard a song of sweetness, as it filled the morning air
 Sounding in its blest completeness, like a tender, pleading prayer
  And I sought to find the singer, where the wondrous song was borne;
And I found a bird, quite wounded, pinned down by a cruel thorn.
 I have seen a soul in sadness, while its wings with pain were furled,
 Giving hope and cheer and gladness that should bless a weeping world
And I k new that life of sweetness was of pain and sorrow borne,
 and a stricken soul was singing, with its heart against a thorn.
  You are told of One who loved you, of a Savior crucified,
You are told of nails that held Him, and a spear that pierced His side;
You are told of cruel scourging, of a Savior bearing scorn, 
and He died for your salvation, with His brow against a thorn.
 You are not above the Master, will you breathe a sweet refrain?
And His grace will be sufficient, when your heart is pierced with pain.
 Will you live to bless His loved ones, though your life is bruised and torn, 
Like the bird that sang so sweetly, with its heart against a thorn?

 A beautiful bird. A simple creature. Teaching me lessons I'll never forget.

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