Startled by a Starling

I grabbed the keys, locked the door and backed out of the driveway. I was running late to a meeting I didn’t want to attend. I should go, for myself and possibly for others, but my heart was not in it. 

When is doing something you don’t want to do a choice of love and when is it just a duty? The difference is difficult to divide. Both are motivated to do what is right, and both are an act of the will and not emotion. The first is generated from the Holy Spirit in response to God’s love freely given. The other originates from a sense of obligation, which is an unconscious attempt to deserve that love.

A song played through the car’s audio, something about rest or peace or something like that, but I paid scant attention. I felt anything but restful and peaceful. My foot mashed the accelerator. I hate being late. I should have started earlier. I backed off the pedal. I shouldn’t speed in a neighborhood. Should. Shouldn’t. Love. Obligation. Peace. Unrest.

A flock of flying starlings caught my eye. Starlings were imported into New York in the late 1800s, and these stumpy, blackish birds have overrun many native species. They hang together in large flocks, gorge on what indigenous birds eat and steal their nests. They are often aggressive. They squeak, creak, whistle and sound like a buzzing electric current. They’re not my favorite bird.

This mini flock flew from low on my left over the street like a bridge. Their pudgy wings flapped furiously to stay aloft, all the more to stay together, rising, and falling and curving, remaining a pack so that none would be picked off by keen-eyed hawks.

Just as the birds winged over the road, the last one in the group ceased pumping the air while his buddies forged ahead. This trailing bird held his wings and allowed the air to buoy him in the sky. The app in the background lilted, “My soul rests.” Time paused with the stilling of the bird’s wings, and I rode the air with him. In that quieted moment, weight drained from me as we glided aloft. I pulled the car to the curb and allowed the experience to continue. I didn’t want to lose this gift of peace sent by God. 

Be still. Let anxiety fly away with the flock. Look to the Holy Spirit to carry me where He wants at the speed He wishes to take me. My God already loves me whether I go to meetings or not. He is my wholeness in activity and in rest. Be still my soul.

Wonder of wonders, tranquility gifted through a scrappy, homely bird. Our Father’s ways are marvelous. He uses anything and anyone, in common duty or love. He can make all things beautiful and for good.

16 thoughts on “Startled by a Starling”

  1. Very well said, Suzy!! I have had this feeling a number of times in my life, but forged ahead only to realize that once I got to the meeting, my spirits lifted because God placed someone in that meeting with me who I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and talking to. I would always leave the meeting feeling so good and smiling. Yes, God gives us what we need, when we least expect it. Now I see it in my life, every day. Each day is such a blessing for me no matter what occurs. Have a glorious day of your own, today and every day!!

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I’m glad that the Lord continues to bless you with His presence and gifts and that you can recognize them despite the hard difficulties you’re experiencing. Happy feelings don’t always come with faithfulness but something deeper and richer. We can see this in you and that brings glory to God and hopefully joy to you.

  2. Love your writing, Suzy!  And love your heart as well.  
    This post made me think of themes from the beautiful hymn, “This is My Father’s World”, particularly how “He speaks to me everywhere”, using even unsuspecting starlings to get His message across. Also appreciated your reminder to quiet and still my soul, resting in the reality the hymn writer eloquently expressed, “that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.” Keep writing and keep pointing us to Him! 

    Including this link to Fernando Ortega….  

    This is my Father’s world,
    And to my listening ears
    All nature sings, and round me rings
    The music of the spheres.
    This is my Father’s world:
    I rest me in the thought
    Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
    His hand the wonders wrought.

    2 This is my Father’s world:
    The birds their carols raise,
    The morning light, the lily white,
    Declare their Maker’s praise.
    This is my Father’s world:
    He shines in all that’s fair;
    In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
    He speaks to me everywhere.

    3 This is my Father’s world:
    O let me ne’er forget
    That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
    God is the Ruler yet.
    This is my Father’s world:
    Why should my heart be sad?
    The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
    God reigns; let earth be glad!   

  3. I could feel the anxiety and urgency at the start (which is where my life seems to reside far too often), and then quickly the calm and peace (where I desire to be!). I FELT it! Thank you for the reminder to be still–I needed that!!

  4. Thank you, Suzy. God continues to bless me through your gifts. Sharing your post with a dear friend in California.

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