Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Shrieker

November 17, 2008
I had a dream the other night –out of season, but it keeps popping up in my mind, so I guess there is a message in it somewhere. I was walking outside and came up to a tree where I heard some commotion amidst the blowing leaves. There were two little baby cardinals (oh, no – not cardinals again) perched on a branch, shivering side by side, about to take their first solo flight. Above them was their parent, fussing and shrieking (at me?) as I stumbled upon and interfered with this important rite of passage for birds.

As I thought about the dream later, the shrieking adult bird seemed to be me (or maybe it was Dr. Feelgood as I like to think that I am not a shrieker) trying to help our two children face life with uncertainties around us and unfamiliar territory ahead without Megan. The ludicrousness of “the shrieker” made me laugh at myself, seeing in the cardinal so many of my own feeble parenting traits, thinking if I ruffle my feathers enough and shriek loud enough, my children will be protected from danger and live happily ever after. Or maybe it was to remind me to get out of their way and let them have their space to take off without my interference. Or maybe it was to remind the fledglings to take the plunge independently, risk the unknown, and push them to head out and learn to fly on their own. Whatever the meaning, shrieking is not attractive in humans. There must be a better way.

In November of ’03 Megan wrote in her journal “God, my heart is yours. I trust you with it. I am trying not to reserve pieces for myself and just let you have the whole thing.” This is something I long to do as our family approaches this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I know that I have been “reserving pieces of my heart” for myself – especially since it has been broken. I have found myself questioning, and yes, even shrieking at uncertainties and injustices, trying to protect and heal and recover. I feel strangely displaced, like Elisabeth Elliot who found herself alone with her young child in the Ecuadorian Jungle after her missionary husband had been savagely killed. She said she found herself musing “What happened? What am I doing in this place? How am I to glorify the Lord now?” She remembered Psalm 16:5 “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” She goes in to say in her book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms, “Our heavenly Father knows to place us where we may learn lessons impossible anywhere else. He has neither misplaced nor displaced us. He assigns and designs according to His inscrutable wisdom – always for our blessing and conformity to the image of Christ.”

Throughout her journals, Megan often prayed that God would protect her heart. She trusted Him with it and we witnessed His faithfulness to her – and us - throughout her illness. That she could radiate a joyful spirit throughout her life came from a protected heart – one that had not been reserved for self, one that never shrieked, but one that had been given over freely to God to “assign and design” according to His will.

Isaiah 32:17-18 says, “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” I hope the prophet meant that verse for this Thanksgiving, because we have decided to face it bravely at home. I am praying for God to protect our broken hearts, giving all the broken pieces back to him, not reserving any for ourselves, with true thanksgiving for each other and our tremendous blessings.

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