God’s Bird

Maybe the Irish poet William Butler Yeats’ metaphor of the falcon and the falconer is so meaningful to me because as a boy I raised homing pigeons. I loved those birds and knew every check and bar on their wings. I loved the popcorn on their noses, and how they cocked their heads to look up into the sky.

I remember the first time I let a bird out of the cage. It circled so high overhead I could barely make it out. In my heart I held this hope, that as its gyre widened and widened, it would remember me, and all the love and care that I had given it, and return home. It did. At last on the roof of my coop, it dropped through the trap, drank from the water dish, tossed a few grains down its gullet, and returned to its familiar perch.

Sometimes a bird did not return. Sometimes it flew off looking for its previous owner, or got lost. And I grieved something awful.

I imagine that’s how God is with us, seeking us in his heart, wanting us to come home, wanting not some rough beast, but himself in the form of His Son to be born in our hearts.

I spent many a twilight looking up into the sky, waiting for my pigeon Blackie to come home. When the sky was empty, and I was discouraged, and lost all hope, then I did not know what dark beast was coming into being in the Bethlehem of my heart?

But when I was full of hope, and the sky was full of the birds of God’s promise, I knew God was with me, and I knew that Blackie was winging his way home. In the Bethlehem of my heart my homing pigeon would roost and coo in the rafters of the stable where the Love and Light of the world had so recently been born.

It’s our faith and our hope that allows God to bring the kingdom of Love into being.