As we are mourn as a Nation, in the aftermath of so much violence, a lot of us (or, maybe, just me…) have to ask:
Where was God?
I won’t try to answer that question here, but I will tell you about something that happened to me this afternoon.
I was sitting on my back deck. My deck is my thinking/praying place. My kids know that when Im sitting out here, and they are in the house, only bother mommy if there is blood or broken bones.
Anyway, I’m sitting there and hear a sudden commotion. I look up to see a Hawk (a Northern Harrier) with a young sparrow hanging from one of its talons.
And… I start to feel sick… I know, I know, this is the way of the natural world. But I hate that it’s this way.
The commotion I heard was coming from a half-dozen other sparrows attacking and harassing the Harrier mid-flight . Clearly, this sparrow was someone’s baby. It was of such value that these other birds risked their own lives in an attempt to rescue this one.
I saw that the sparrow the Harrier had in its talon was still struggling to get free. Now I couldn’t look away…
The sparrow warriors chased the Harrier into the top of my River Birch tree, and in an effort to avoid its own demise, the Harrier dropped its prey.
I saw exactly where that sparrow fell.
The young sparrow on the ground froze.
I felt nudged to go over and check things out. We own a cat that is a most excellent hunter, and I couldn’t let an injured bird come to that end. Not on my watch.
I walk over to the young sparrow, the commotion still continuing overhead. I can see it is not visibly wounded, but, it is terrified.
Animals, much like human beings, are programmed with a fight/fright/flight/freeze response to perceived threats. This one was still frozen, and I knew I needed to get it to safety so it could recover its volition.
I scooped up the sparrow, and placed her on the other side of my yard, in Ezra’s Garden. Then I backed away slowly, and sat down to watch.
I saw the Harrier circle back and perch stoically over the River Birch tree, waiting to recover her prey. But the sparrow warriors were perched among the mammoth sunflowers and evening primroses in Ezra’s Garden, on the other side of the yard, calling to the young sparrow hiding in the thicket below.
A short time later, the young sparrow returned to her senses, and flew up to meet her fellow sparrows. The ecstatic chirping that followed still sings in my ears.
I don’t know why God doesn’t always act to prevent tragedy down here. I am not God, nor can I answer for Him.
What I do know is this:
““So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:26-31 (NRSV, emphasis mine)