While You Try

Birds keep leaving me their feathers. Not long after I wrote the piece about Mabel and the bluebirds, I went out early in the morning and there was a perfect bluebird feather in the little parking space in front of the house.

This morning a small grey feather on the floor in the kitchen of Raina's house, where I am staying right now.

I know why there's a bird feather inside Raina's house — she and her kids foster injured birds. Still, I don't recall seeing it there when I walked through the kitchen yesterday evening or last night.

Are the birds trying to tell me something? Is it time to fly away?

The story we read in church on Sunday was about Peter and the boat and the storms raging around him and how he was kind of checking to see if God was going to be there for him. He's kind of belligerent and a little rude when he says to Jesus, "Hey dude, if you are who you say you are, tell me to get out of this boat and walk on the water." And Jesus is like, "You've got this, come on." So Peter gets out of the boat and takes a few steps on the water then he kind of looks around, thinks to himself, "Oh shit, I'm in a storm and I'm walking on this water." And then he falters and falls and sinks a little and I'm sure Jesus was like, "Jesus Christ (although, he probably didn't take his own name in vain; I'm not really sure what the popular swear words were back then), here we go again." And he reaches out his hand and gives Peter a boost and everything turns out fine. 

Biblical stories. They're full of yucks. 

They're also full of ideas and there's a lot of hope and assurance hidden in there, too. And it doesn't take a Biblical scholar to figure it all out. The boat: nice place to be! Even when the storms of life aren't brewing. The raging seas: life! Peter and his doubt: me! All of us! The dude lending a helping hand: Well, that's for you to decide. I call it God, for as improbable as it may seem that some unseen benevolent and infinitely patient enterprise out there is willing to help pick me up off my face every freaking time I fall, I believe it to be true. And trust me when I tell you, this life has been nothing if not one after another after another falling downs. Some spectacular, some just a stumble, but after 5o years or so of working on this upright thing, I can say with great confidence that falling down is woven into the deal.

I mean, seriously, I have no idea how else we would figure it out.

"Make a lot of mistakes today!" is what I yell to Coco when she gets out of the car and heads into school in the morning. 

Wait. Hold on. I'm getting off track here. 

The boat.

The thing I love about that story is that when Peter and Jesus are hanging out afterwards, maybe when they're toweled-off and having some beer or something, Jesus says something about Peter being of little faith. "Ye of little faith." We use that phrase all the time and we use it to mean someone lacking in faith. But I like looking at it another way. I like thinking that Jesus was just talking about Peter as being in the formative stages of his faith development. I like believing that Jesus was more kind of congratulating Peter ... Dude! You did it! You got out of the boat! You tried! 

Because I think that's what it takes in this life. Just a little bit of faith. To propel us forward, into the unknown, turbulent and scary waters of life. Toward a god that loves us and won't let us drown. 

I think it's hard because we can't see God. God's not showing up in the form of a person whose hand we can feel when we are sinking.

Then again, maybe God is.

Maybe God is showing up now, for me, as the feathers, telling me the story of my life. As a kind of, "it's OK ... it's OK ... the birds build their nests wherever they go ... you will be just fine, like the birds."

God's pretty mysterious that way. Once you start looking, you kind of find God all over the place, everywhere, all the time.

Here is a little blessing for you today:

May your life be stormy and rough
like the seas that stirred the boat
and made Peter ask for the hand
that reached out and picked him up.
So that you will seek
and you will know
the grace of those around you
who love you so much
that they believe you can walk on water
and will hold your hand
while you try.
Amen.