Always Learning

I find it interesting, if not reasonably disheartening, that our introductions (especially among men) usually begin with the question: “What do you do?” 

We are inadvertently declaring to one another that “what you do” defines “who you are”. But as I’ve been transplanted into a new community and asked this question a number of times, I find a somber angst growing in my soul. I couldn’t possibly explain who I am by giving one pigeon-holed title to another. Sometimes I reply “pastor”. Others it’s “writer” or “farmer”, or just awkwardly get around the question because I know neither I nor he wants the answer. 

I think a more apt question would be “what do you like to do?” Of course, this must be genuine and heartfelt, not rudimentary or political, and must be accepting of whatever length of time is needed to properly answer. This would be the only way to accordingly initiate the knowledge of another. Anything rushed and curt is a tell-tale sign that neither party really cares. 

I watched three of the four sparrow chicks fly from their nest and the fourth remains alone. All have been spooked by myself or the dog, and I am apologetic each time. The last seemed to struggle the most, hovering above the lawn until she caught enough wind to carry her across the street into a hackberry. I’m sure she will be fine. 

It’s a pleasure to witness each first flight. Now, I am alone with Number 4. She stares at me in her solitude. I wonder what carries through her mind. Indecision. Fear. Excitement. Wonder. Confusion. Loneliness (although surely Comfort from having more room).

I suspect she will be gone by the end of the day. 

There’s something magical about the Smoky’s. That haze and quiet wind’s mysterious, yet subtle allure. You feel the sense of it calling you but at the same moment know danger is in her foothills. I could stare at her all day. 

Number 4 just left the nest. As I sat here with Paul’s second letter to Timothy, I heard a chirp and glanced up to see her rise from the center of the nest and crown its edge. Up and down, her head bobbed and bravery throbbed. Back and forth, she let adventure call her and fear vex her. Once more, up and down, back and forth, and a little chirp before the first leap. She collided with the siding, course-corrected, and made a flight (albeit ungracefully) to the sugar maple her first sibling alighted into. 

Just like that, the nest is empty. It served its purpose and now all that remains are pungent filth and happy memories. Their parents may never see them again, and I myself may only witness them flitting off the feeder hanging from the sugar-berry. They are gone, and this chapter done.

Should I remove the nest or erect a monument? Perhaps it will stay there until next season when another sparrow needs it. 

God the Father gives the sparrows a place to rest and grow. How much more so does He love you and provide for you? Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. You will have your nest and you will have your flight (most likely lacking grace and undeniably unorthodox). One day the nest will be empty and hardly a memory or word will be spoken of its decaying self. 

Reading Second Timothy, I realize that we as a westernized Church have closed the gap to “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”.

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