If I am blessed to live a long life, I can easily see myself taking up a hobby. And if I had my way right now, it would be bird watching.
Oh yeah baby, socks pulled up to the knee, floppy hat, old school pencil and notebook in hand, binoculars... The whole shebang.
I would totally rock it. Or, at least I think I would.
Okay that verdict is still out, but, I totally get why people are so into it.
It is so darn peaceful. So lovely.
A gentle little adventure of discovery.
Let’s go somewhere we have never been and look around!
Look, it's a bird! Or is it a plane… definitely not superman but it does have a blue stripe on its back. Maybe it is an Eurasian Jay. (Confession, I googled that.)
Why do I love birds so much? I know it has a little to do with the fact that I am jealous that nearly all of them can fly. (Sorry Penguins)
I also think that they are embedded in our culture. Our lore. Our psyche. Our songs.
“Take these broken wings And learn to fly again, learn to live so free.”
“Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. You were only waiting for this moment to arise.”
My favorite bird though, is not even a real one. So I doubt I will ever check it off my list.
It is a Phoenix. Made popular by the Harry Potter series.
Phoenix, according to the wizard Dumbledore, are special creatures. They have a life cycle where once they die, they burst into flame and then are reborn from their ashes. They also have tremendous healing powers.
Pretty amazing if you ask me.
And pretty applicable to most of us.
How many of us have gone through tremendously difficult times to then make it through to the other side stronger and better than we were before?
How many of us have then turned around and were a source of healing for someone who was going through a similar thing?
Or course we don’t wish ill will on anyone, including ourselves, and of course we would prefer to have never gone through it in the first place.
But that is not life.
It just isn’t.
We get bruised and beaten and drugged around and set on fire.
And as Brene Brown implies, once the gladiator gets beat down, they have a choice. Stay down, or get up.
Die or Rise.
Stay the same or be transformed.
It sounds incredibly simple. But we all know it isn’t.
Healing is hard work.
It doesn’t always look the way we think it does.
Healing, in its idyllic form, looks like a gentle breeze on a warm summer’s day with flowers blooming and quiet sighs.
I think we get there eventually, I think we have those lying down in green pasture moments. We do.
There are Houses of Healing. Places like J.R.R Tolkien described. Where someone is playing the lute and we lie on silk sheets and drink strange potions concocted from ancient wisdom.
But initially? Right after the battle?
Transformation is rough.
One of my favorite versions of Cinderella is Ever After. Drew Barrymore is Cinderella. She is smart, different, lovely, kind and strong.
At the end of the movie, before her prince comes to her rescue, she is sold into slavery and wields a sword to get herself free.
She leaves her prison in dusty work clothes with a tired smile on her face, not exactly the picture of a princess.
Then her prince shows up. (Great timing man.)
But I think that is exactly what the beginnings of transformation and healing look like.
I think initially, we are still a little tender, a little sore, a little beat up.
Fresh from the battle.
Maybe smiling. Maybe not.
Not yet anyway.
It will come.
Again, I am not a bird, but if I were, I would imagine the first time I would try to fly on a recently broken and healed wing I would not go very far or fast and I would probably be a little bit timid. Glancing nervously at my scars.
Scars are there for a reason. They are nature’s tattoos. Reminding us that we fell, yes, but we got up.
They tell us our story changed. And us with it.
But what a fight it was.
For some of us the memory of the struggle may be too fresh. The wounds still bleeding a little.
And if that is you. If you are post battle but feeling a little wobbly in your legs. Or out of breath. Or dusty. Or covered in soot.
Be encouraged. It is completely normal.
It is just a part of the healing and transformation we don’t think about.
It is also necessary. Necessary for what you are called to be next.
Or, to put it in other ways.
For the parent: A baby cries when it takes its first breaths.
For the nerd: Gandalf the Grey becomes Gandalf the White only after a battle with a demon.
For the romantic: Flowers are covered in dirt the first time they see the sun.
For the sports lover: The Gladiator gets up slowly after defeating the beast.
For me: It’s alright if your wings are a bit dark. They just passed through fire.
Stop. Take a moment. Breath deep. Listen. Rest.
Let the wind blow and clean you off.
It will you know.
It always does.
Look up at the sky and watch for birds.
Stretch out long and wide.
And know this in your resurrected heart.
Eventually, the Phoenix rises.
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