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.