do not worry
He’s in a thousand tiny things: the way one strand of Riley’s hair falls unevenly across her forehead, the rich sound of Zoe’s laughter—and mine—over song lyrics she misinterprets, the faintest hint of flowers on the breeze when I open the back door and walk across the porch. The bird feeders, empty, swing ever so slighly. He’s in that rhythm, the way life sways back and forth, empty and filled again. The birds wait, tiny enough to sit in my palm but too free to be held; flashes of bright yellow and cherry red in the grass. I can still smell the sweet-cut trimmings; the dew sticks them wet to my bare feet. Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life. Do not worry.
I step into the yard, and the birds fly, afraid of me and my veiny feet; of the strength of my hands; of the unexpected way I interrupt their twittering with the sound of footfall; the heat of movement. It’s just me. I always come just this way, just to fill the feeders so you can eat. It always makes me just the tiniest bit sad that I’ve scared them with my arrival; but then, I know they’ll be back. And they’ll feast on what I’ve left for them. I talk to birds as I work, hoping the gentleness of my voice will coax them from their hiding places. This makes me smile, and there He is–God, I mean, and with Him the loves I’ve known, my own little cloud of witnesses, right in the sweet-cut traces of memory. As a fair-haired child, I wrote letters to my Papa on the subject of birds, and he sent back poems. My Papa used to name the hummingbirds flitting at his feeder—Twiggy and Zip Zip and Road Runner. His letters sit delicate in my hand, paper-thin treasures fragile enough to crush, an elegant history only just pausing to sit in my hand. And yet, the appearance of love is often so deceptive. We think love fragile and fleeting, but real love stays, powerful, strong-filling our empty-spaces. The sky is blue, the day is sunny. Elysa thinks her Grandpa is funny. I lift the first feeder from its hook, gripping a fat bag of seed in my other hand. Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. He feeds them by my hand gripping the fat bag, by my grass clipping covered feet steadying the feeder to keep it upright while I pour. The seed rattles, dead-filling the empty cylinder of the feeder. This seed will bear a different kind of fruit—the sound of birdsong. It will build nests and fill them; broken down into soluble energy. Sometimes our sustainance comes from the most unexpected places—things broken down, clipped, lumbering into our lives a terrifying surprise, in the things we curse before we discover their merit. He’s there, in that startling truth. He’s the redeemer of things that are not; things that wouldn’t be without His all-changing presence in the midst of them. They neither sow nor reap nor store away. And yet. He feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Oh yes, yes you are. You flash vibrant, skittering at my feet, always so afraid just to trust me.
I settle the feeder again on it’s hook and reach for the second one, this one more squat and round, a bit smaller than the first. It’s funny to me that the big birds fight over this one, when the other, taller feeder holds at least twice the seed. But then, the perch along the bottom has a wider circumference and maybe feels a bit safer to the feet. He’s there too. Do you see Him there? He moves gently, mightily through the way the more awkward thing—the riskier, outside-of-comfort thing, holds the most bounty, the biggest feast, the most potential satisfaction. The moments He beckons us to trust right past our comfort, those are the moments most pregnant with wild life.
I pour the seed, settling the green top into the clips that hold it in place and hang the feeder back in place. Who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to His life (Matt. 6:25-27)? Do not worry about your life. I hear it clear, and it isn’t a suggestion. It’s trust that lengthens the hours and stretches the moments, that awakens us from fright to discover the feast. He’s there, in the filling of our hungry, empty spaces. There, in the cover clipped careful over provision. And lately, I peer starving from a hidden place, only to discover Him there, refilling my life with His grace enough. And when that’s emptied, when I’ve gobbled it all down for strength, He’ll come back, surprising me unexpectedly, awe-inspiring footfall that I will often misunderstand and then rediscover all over again.
So the key, maybe, is the fixing of my eyes, the tracing of the fearful edges of Faithful and Almighty, the breath-stealing truth that He stays and His love stays and that cloud of witnesses stays, and my fear will only keep me from finding the full measure of Him.
Be still, He says to me, busy in His work. I always come back just this way to feed you.
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).