Sunday, January 3, 2016

Epiphanies and Seagulls

Today we were blessed with a liturgy full of music and life as we celebrate the Epiphany. The second verse of the gathering hymn went like this (from the song, As With Gladness):

As joyful steps they sped
to that lowly manger bed,
there to bend the knee before
one whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek the mercy seat.

We were also blessed with a homily that reminded us of the way that strangers came together, following a sign, to see the newborn Christ. The final line of homily was: "There is no turning back, only moving forward."

I went for a walk between liturgy and noon dinner. A lot of wind has accompanied the snow we received over the weekend, creating some great waves in our Great Lake. The seagulls were waiting at the shoreline, and as the water got close, they would take off. With the wind blowing against them, they appeared to be floating in place mid-air - a very cool sight to witness, and inadequately captured in the clip that follows. Whether they were attempting to move forward, or were just having fun, I'm glad I caught a glimpse.


It reminded me of a poem called "Blackbirds" by Julie Cadwallader-Staub. When I replace the word "blackbirds" with "seagulls" and think about the events of the Epiphany, it gives me a bit of hope to move forward, too.

I am 52 years old, and have spent
truly the better part
of my life out-of-doors
but yesterday I heard a new sound above my head
a rustling, ruffling quietness in the spring air

and when I turned my face upward
I saw a flock of blackbirds
rounding a curve I didn't know was there
and the sound was simply all those wings
just feathers against air, against gravity
and such a beautiful winning
the whole flock taking a long, wide turn
as if of one body and one mind.

How do they do that?

Oh if we lived only in human society
with its cruelty and fear
its apathy and exhaustion
what a puny existence that would be

but instead we live and move and have our being
here, in this curving and soaring world
so that when, every now and then, mercy and tenderness triumph in our lives
and when, even more rarely, we manage to unite and move together
toward a common good,

we can think to ourselves:

ah yes, this is how it's meant to be.


Let us walk in the holy presence.