Loss turned on its head; we walk towards a new beginning
as the ending burns behind us in the distance, lighting our path.
We walk forward, never knowing what is to come,
but let us trust, nonetheless.
There is this myth: when an eagle reaches old age, it grows weary of flying; its feathers weigh down its flight. It must choose between shedding its feathers, all that helped it survive and fly, or to die. So it finds a cave in the mountainside, rests, and sheds that weight.
In the darkness of the cave it lets go of what no longer serves it, releasing what helped it fly as a young bird first setting out on that new horizon. It sheds the weight of those days past, of the feathers that carried it for its entire life. Eventually it grows a new set of feathers, feathers that are lighter and stronger. The eagle leaves the cave and flies on, unburdened and free; the ultimate metaphor of what God does with His people in the terrifying moment of this isn’t working anymore.
He is the quiet voice that whispers or the circumstance that screams it. He is the voice that many of us try to ignore. Maybe a job, a relationship, or a lifestyle holds you back. The way you are treated, it doesn’t feel right. The fabric of your worldly life pulls at your spirit; it doesn’t allow you to move. You feel stuck. The job feels old. The friendships are stagnant. The dreams you had…what were those again?
Or maybe your mind frame, your past, your scars, your beliefs, your prejudices or grudges, your fears no longer serve you. I believe these things protect us, like the feathers. They are our security blanket, they are who we are and they tell us who we aren’t. They are probably there for a good reason. They helped us navigate the world around us, like the eagle. Old ideas used to keep us away from things that hurt, but now they’re telling us this isn’t working anymore. The script continues, the setting changes, but the scene repeats and repeats. We are sick of it. Our protection from the world holds us back, like the boy in a bubble. As we come into deeper relationship with Christ, and know whose we are, why do we need anything but Him to tell us who we are? What’s with the fear, why the bubble? What things does God have planned for us, just beyond the bubble?
He says, “Let me protect you. In me, put your faith”
May I be brutal and say, if your faith was totally, unequivocally in Christ, would you be in the relationships you are in now? Would you be working where you are? What risks would you take? What feathers would you lose?
So, this is when I ask you, will you enter the darkness in a big, scary leap?
It’s terrifying to let go of who we believe we are, to grasp whom we must become. Feathers are safe and worn-in. But instead of aiding your flight, they weigh you down. They tire you out. You can’t reach the heights you long for. Maybe you caught a glimpse once, when your young, strong will was flying. Will alone runs thin and grows weak over time. The lies or false beliefs that kept us safe, or kept us right no longer serve us. We long to fly higher and freer than ever before. And really, we have no choice. We can’t survive otherwise. But He loves us, regardless.
God brings us into the darkness of the cave to reveal the life he has for us, not tainted but sweetened by our past failings, struggles, deprivations, wounds. Enriching and enriched by the world around us, tracing the lines of the world delicately and loving the smooth curves, rough edges as His, we transform. We are loved and never alone. It was all drawn for His glory, to be revealed. This isn’t just a church thing to say; I believe it’s the purpose and the inevitable destination.
When God brought me to these moments, or crossroads, I have stalled. Even for years. I have misunderstood asking, “Was that really His voice? ‘Cause a Christian/friend/lover/the world said to do something else.” I’ve told myself to try harder and cursed myself in my weakness. I have found the false cure in jobs or in school or in relationships. I have grasped, clung, and drove myself absolutely nuts. I have continued on, and after all my trying, found myself back at square one, “this isn’t working”. Hating where I am, fearful of life without the bubble, I’ve settled into defeat.
I’ve looked for an epiphany, a breakthrough to shatter the everyday, not realizing that each passing day brought me closer to The Day. Not realizing that I could’ve at least relaxed and looked at the miserable scenery of where I was. I forgot that God moves me. I can’t do a thing. My head-knowledge of fine meditative practices and philosophical viewpoints are fine, but what does it mean if it does nothing? If I had a wall of Bob Marley quotes, and told myself to not worry 50 times a day it won’t do much if I don’t know why I shouldn’t worry.
Finally, although the metaphor if the eagle in the cave paints a beautiful picture of transformation and shedding the old, it isn’t true. Eagles do grow new feathers, but they don’t lose them all at once in isolation; it’s a continual process. If an eagle went into a mountainside cave, became naked and waited for new feathers to grow, it’d starve or freeze to death, completely helpless. We don’t pull out all our feathers at once. We evolve. And maybe it’s disappointing that the dramatic transformation is just a myth, but they are eagles. They are awesome enough. Just like us. Our stories and selves are continual, ever evolving, and beautiful.
Let us look towards the future with wonder and not dread.
Even as what we once held close burns behind us and lights our path.
Let us be brave and continue on in the immeasurable love He has for us.
And on to the future, thy Kingdom come