We didn’t get around to Christmas cards this year, but come
January, when the real depth and breadth of winter set it, I started making
paper Cardinals. They made me happy in
the same tangible, heart-happy way playing the Ukulele does. The crimson card stock, the white on black on
red, the candy-cane striped twine tied just so – all of these fed my soul, fed
my hope as I cut and pasted.
I built the birds in batches and sent them out in flocks,
tucked into brown envelopes the color of sandpaper. I imagined them winging
their way through town, across state lines and landing, breathless and bright
on the doorsteps of those my heart carries.
I took one, by hand, to a friend who suffered a traumatic
loss this past week. Walking through her
door I remembered that I am a Pastor to her.
I was her Pastor, for a brief year or so, but then I left the
ministry to be home with my young sons and she and her husband left the
Walking in to her house, though, I felt it, that she is still one of my
I spread my arms like wings and gathered her in, I sat and drank, listened and prayed, and did my best to provide a shelter for the darkness she is bearing.
I have been through a few months of darkness now, months of
the deep pain of unknowing, the frightening disorientation of walking in the
dark. During prayer awhile back the word
“brooding” arose within me. Later I looked the
word up in an online dictionary and found, among others, the following
1. to protect (young) by or as if by covering with wings
hover envelopingly; loom.
I began to
wonder whether the darkness I felt had something to do with the spirit of God
brooding within me. Maybe the darkness I was
experiencing was not the distance of God, but rather the nearness – the
overshadowing – of God.
This week I came across the phrase “brooding tenderness” in
a collection of writings by Howard Thurman.
Writing about his sense of being surrounded by the love of God, Thurman
describes the brooding tenderness out of which all things arise.
The more I make my home in this spacious place beneath God’s
wide, warm wings, the more I feel my own wings stretched open wide. The more I rest in this brooding tenderness,
the more I feel a depth of tenderness being born in me. Resting
here in the darkness of waiting, I also become a place of rest for those who wait.