The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.
(I am not sure if the picture is a Downy or a Hairy Woodpecker because I can’t see any red on it. If you can identify this guy let me know).
I have a memory of watching the Billy Graham Crusade in which Ethel waters sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. This was back in the days that seem to have set the stage for our day when there were people running around protesting everything. They may have been protesting the Vietnam War but I’m not sure. The old biblical axiom that claimed the “poor we will always have with us”, can be changed a little bit to say that the protester we will always have with us. There’s even some group protesting about Almond milk. I’m not sure what they’re protesting about, maybe it’s labeling. Evidently some people aren’t smart enough to know that almonds aren’t mammals and therefore Almond milk has to be something different then cows milk, or camels milk. I wonder if they have protested coconut milk. Anyway, sometime during the Graham Crusade protesters were hooting and hollering and carrying on about whatever it was they felt needed to be carried on about. Ethel waters was about to sing and they were hollering and screaming. The cameras never showed the protesters but they showed Ethel with a kind of a matronly gleam in her eye, and a bright smile on her face. She said “I want you young people up there to know I love you all very much, but if I were a little younger, and was able to get back to where you are, I might spank some of you on the bottom”. I’m sure today she would be attacked is being somehow provoking violence against those who were simply “practicing free speech”.
I digress here because her rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, was always evocative to me. My preference back in those days in music was the Beatles and the Mamas and the Papas with a little bit of country western, mainly Merle Haggard thrown into the lot. When she sang that song it was wistful, poignant, hopeful, and one could not but get the sense of a deep personal trust in an all seeing merciful God who gave His Son that we might be free like a bird.
“I sing because I’m happy and I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”.
Sung in the midst of protest it was really quite inspirational and in my memory the protest died as she sang. It may be wishful thinking but it is what I remember. The nature of protest is such that it often seems to be two faced and hypocritical. The same people who chain themselves to old growth forest in order to protect an owl, turn a blind eye to the hundreds of bald eagles that die every couple of months from wind farming . The northern half of North Dakota is not known for it’s scenery except in the Pembina hills, the Badlands and Turtle Mountain area, but the road to the Turtle mountains has been infested with windmills and the most beautiful county where I used to ride horse and watch pheasants bust from the buckbrush has been debased and disfigured beyond belief. The folks that protest the cutting of redwood timber in California never quite understood the disconnect between their protest of lumbering, and the fact that they wrote many of their protest articles in scientific journals while seated on a deck made out of redwood. The folks that protested the pipeline that would carry oil through North Dakota made as big a mess as an oil spill and the State is still paying for the cleanup. Our partners in Minnesota should help pay for that as well by the way. It is a known fact that the rent a mob group on the left hired protesters that came from Minneapolis and paid them to go and squat on the Cannonball. “Squat” by the way in this context is used literally.
There are protesters in the bird world too. I love the song of birds in the morning and I love the haunting coo of the Morning dove in the evening. When I was a boy living in Colorado but spending summers in North Dakota the recalled song of a meadowlark would bring a homesick pang. I’m not as enamored with the protest song of birds. I have a particularly rambunctious family of wrens that have a real nest in my front yard, and a false nest on the side of my house. If I approach one or the other I am bombarded by racket that is as irritating as it is hard to describe. It is an angry chatter, and squeak that doesn’t die away until I fade away. If I sit quietly reading a book in my favorite part of the yard, the
same wrens not recognizing the object of their wrath, will hop all around on the deck and the logs tha prop up my flowers, blissfully unaware of my presence and they are delightful.
There was a blog I was reading a few days ago that said that God is a birdwatcher. There is certainly ample evidence of that in the Scriptures. Jesus sermons with “the birds of the air and the lilies of the field are a case in point. We know that Luther was a birdwatcher and mentions them often. When he was in the Wartburg high up above the forest he said that he was in “the Kingdom of the Birds”. David was a bird watcher too. In Psalm 84 the words “The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.” The word “bird” is translated somewhere as “sparrow”. Luther translated the song of a sparrow as saying, “Mortal cease from care and sorrow, God provides for the morrow”. Far away from the sanctuary of the temple David missed the intimacy with God that the birds had. Interesting, people today seem to think that intimacy with God, is “for the birds”. Intimacy with God the almighty which we do not deserve and cannot have the audacity to seek on our own, is a free gift in Jesus. David will say later in the Psalm that he would rather be a doorkeeper in God’s house than dwell in the tents of the opulent wicked.
In the Holiest places where God says He comes to meet men the lowliest and some would say the dirtiest creatures find a place to build a nest. Those of you who have ever tried to stop a swallow from building a nest or cleaned up one after the hatchlings leave know what I meant. If you have had a sparrows nest on your property you know what I mean. I wonder if there was a protest by ancient “church ladies” at the mess in the sanctuary made by the birds? I wonder what they thought when they sang Psalm 84?