The day was warm and sunny when my husband and I set out for our favorite lakeside park. By the time we arrived, grey clouds flooded the sky and the wind whipped up the waves. As we wandered along the walkway beside the lake, I heard the chatter of seagulls. Suddenly a dozen or more flew over our head toward the lake and the aerial acrobatics began. I have shared the park with seagulls dozens of time and usually shooed them away. This time, however, I joined their adventure.
The wind was strong but “variable.” For several minutes, I watched one determined seagull fly, then float, then lose the wind and fall toward the lake. He always recovered and tried again. He was pushed back repeatedly. Finally he found the perfect spot in the wind and flew in dazzling circles before he landed on the water to rest. Other birds seemed to be racing each other to some unknown treasure in the water. The bravest gulls hovered over the water, their frantically fluttering wings holding them steady in the wind. (I couldn’t help but think what a miracle of engineering birds really are. It takes a fixed wing airplane and a helicopter to accomplish what birds can do in seconds.) A few of the gulls played tag in the air. And the most content just floated on the waves saving their energy and enjoying the view.
I was reminded of the time that Jesus compared our lives to the life of the birds: “There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds” (Matthew 6: 26; MSG).
Sometimes our lives of blue skies and sunshine quickly and inexplicably change to gray clouds and furious winds. I had a week like that recently. Financial setbacks, medical issues, silly inconveniences, and the messiness and cruelty of American politics threw me off-balance. Some days I pushed against the wind. Some days I hovered ceaselessly over the problems. Some days I raced in circles looking for solutions.
Finally, I decided to rest in the waves, saving my energy and enjoying the view. I learned from the birds that I can live free and unfettered, “careless in the care of God.”