This guest post is by Jill Crainshaw.
“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.” –Deuteronomy 30:19
Whatever else people of faith make of this week’s Old Testament lectionary reading from Deuteronomy, I hear in these ancient words a call to embrace and embody life as gift, even during messy, difficult, and uncertain times.
My brief encounter with cedar waxwings the other day reminded me of how important this is. Waxwings are wonderful, mysterious birds. Here, where I live, their visits are brief. They come to our backyard for a few hours in February, and then they journey on. If we are lucky, we get to see them. I was lucky–blessed–to get to be near the waxwings this week.
How did the fleeting visit of these beautiful birds remind me of Deuteronomy’s call to embrace life? Political chaos fills my newsfeed and attempts to infiltrate every corner of my heart and head. So many people have so much to say about our current political realities. A colleague shared with me important wisdom about this. The danger, she said, is that we will begin to live by the new administration’s biorhythms instead of our own biorhythms of hope and grace.
I wrote this poem as a prayerful imagining of what kind of internal spiritual resistance is needed if we are to reclaim healthy heart and head space so that we can do our part to “choose life,” to cultivate communities of Gospel hospitality, healing, and hope.
know when at winter’s spring-ward edge
to harvest our backyard cedar’s frosted
blue berries. Sometimes the grace of
February wildness tugs my eyes skyward,
and I see them, masked urban foragers
warming naked Jack Frost trees with
ephemeral browned-butter flames.
They dapple still-cold skies with tails
dipped in sunflower yellow, and then
they are gone, leaving no sign they
were ever here at all. But as I watch
them fly away, an ancient promise
caresses my face. When an uninvited
stranger occupies our terrace, holds minds
hostage to chaotic rhythms, desperate
to rewire fragile dreams to his own
gravitational force, this is how we
resist. We synchronize our wings to
creation’s pace, breathe in and out
the spiraling balm of hope. And then we
live as people who remember, who
know in the marrow of our bones:
the waxwings will visit again.
Photo by Jill Crainshaw.
About Jill Crainshaw
Jill Crainshaw is a PCUSA minister and Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. She is the author of several books on worship and ministry.