My office is on the second floor of our building in the Starkville Industrial Park, and I have a window that faces the north side. I regularly enjoy the decision the Queen made to let the crape myrtle trees next to the building follow nature’s course and grow to their hearts’ content rather than chopping them off at the fork in the branches (read metaphorical knees) like some poor myrtles endure. This particular landscaping technique (letting them grow) has often afforded me a wonderful view out of my window despite the standard pre-fab metal-sided glimpse of our industrial neighbors. “My” crape myrtle has been home to several bird families over the years. It’s offered beautiful blooms interspersed with blue sky on summer days. It’s displayed the waning colors of fall among bare branches and revealed the new growth of Spring. Right there on the other side of the glass, it’s given me a walk through the park in the middle of industrial manufacturing central. It makes me smile.
However, this week it’s brought me a touch of jaw-dropping surprise and just a smidgen of annoyance. This week I (and my crape myrtle) have been visited by a very persistent bird. And, frankly, he (and I’m assuming he’s a he) seems to be highly ticked off. At me? I don’t really know. Sometimes it seems like it. But, maybe that’s presumptuous and possibly a bit delusional.
Maybe he (and I’m assuming he’s a he) thought he saw a hot little birdie mama in the glass reflection he’d like to build a nest with among the newly sprouted crape myrtle leaves. Maybe he thought he saw another available boy bird honing in on his crape myrtle territory. Maybe it was seeing the great beyond through the slivers of light at the other end of our building. Maybe the very existence of the glass itself just ticked him off. Maybe that transparent, but obviously apparent boundary just pushed his buttons. I don’t really know.
Here’s what I do know. He had his eye on me. He scoped out the glass. He flapped his wings with everything he had. He moved back and forth from side to side right in front of the window without ever touching it. That’s the part that brought the jaw-dropping surprise. He opened his tiny beak. And he SANG. Repeatedly. Persistently. LOUDLY. Much more loudly than expected from such a tiny beak, from such a tiny bird. So much so that it got his little feathers all ruffled. And, although that’s the part that brought me the smidgen of annoyance given the disruption to my thought process it produced, it’s also the part that I really sort of respect. What a bird!
He walked flew right up to that glass wall–the one that caused him doubt and fear and maybe anger. He did what any self-respecting bird does best. Intimidated or confused or not, he sang the loudest and most defiant song he could muster. It got MY attention. He hauled off and sang. He showed me.
And he did. Show me.
Fresh on the heels of nature’s little object lesson, the report for today’s Oh Happy Day! gratitude project has me thinking about boundaries. And about singing. And, oddly, about how grateful I am for both. We all have boundaries whether internal or external. The boundaries make themselves most apparent in times of transition. When we contemplate change–a change in perspective, in thinking, in lifestyle, in action–sometimes all we can see are the boundaries. Within those walls, we feel our own limitations. It’s easy to lose our vision, our gumption, our selves there.
Yet, if we look carefully, most boundaries are glass. Humans have the unique capacity to see the transparency and the transiency of limits. God designed us with the ability to hope, to imagine, to see beyond, to see through. And, whatever real or imagined situation we see through that looking glass, we can glean new perspective and new courage to push against those limitations–to alter and expand the space in which we live and move and breathe. Whether through the time-tested promises of faith and hope found in the Bible, or the caring words of others that often shift our perspective, or our own sheer defiance of a particular situation, we can haul off and sing. We can sing the loudest and most persistent song we’ve ever sung. We can push through a week with a sick and crying Baby Girl in need of Mommy’s care. We can juggle and act based on our own priorities, rather than those of the world around us. We can bend a creative block and make it produce something fresh and timely. We can change a situation that has caused us pain for too long. We can learn to do something new. We can choose to do what brings us joy. We can say “no.” We can say “yes.” We can say “enough.” We can say “more.” We can sing. Out loud.
This week I’m thankful for the singing lessons of that little bird. I’m thankful for the songs of faith and of faithful friends and family I’ve heard this week. I’m thankful for boundaries. And for recognizing their transparency. I’m thankful for the ability to sing.
Oh Happy Day!