Monday, July 27, 2009

His eye is on the sparrow...

I haven't written for a week. I think the pressure of writing from General Convention was a bit too much and getting back to the 'right coast' threw me off a bit in terms of what time it was.

I think I need to reiterate what the name of this blog is about since I've had a few people ask me. Jonah, who traveled to Nineveh in the belly of a fish and was vomited up on that shore, proclaimed God's message to the vile folks and Nineveh and then, when they repented, was, in a word 'pissed off' at God (two words actually....) He sat up on a hill, Jonah did, in the horrible and unrelenting sun, to complain to God about God's sparing the folks of Nineveh. God caused a plant to grow up to shade him and just as soon caused a worm to kill the plant. That plant, many Biblical scholars agree, was a Castor Oil Tree. Jonah is left to ponder under that dead tree and that is where I find myself, more often than not, not a little perturbed with God and trying to ponder out God's ways....

I was just out in the Close of St. John's, watching the sparrows bathe and feed. They bathe in the little spots of dust they can find in such a rainy Summer and feed on the crumbs they find from the Soup Kitchen which serves lunch outside in good weather. There is a stick hierarchy in the Close. If the pair of hawks who live downtown are in the ancient elms, the close is free of any other creatures--all of them knowing 'what's good for them' in some instinctive way. Crows also tend to empty the Close for awhile, but squirrels and pigeons are glad to share the space with those feathered rats after a time. Mid-afternoon is the time for the sparrows and a few starlings, who have seemingly met some kind of avian understanding.

Watching a sparrow bathe in the dust is about as wonderful as anything other than watching some creature give birth. They lay down and roll in a way you wouldn't imagine birds could do, flutter and flap and cover themselves with dirt only to shake most of it off and fly away refreshed. Some are impatient and try to drive away another sparrow from the dust only to result in a wing-flapping, chirping confrontation until one backs off to wait.

One of the great gospel tunes is "His Eye is on the Sparrow" and it brings home to me the reality that if God is concerned with these tiny, fussy, fluttering birds that weigh, I would guess, 3 or 4 ounces, then it isn't inconceivable that God loves a short, pudgy white man as well.

"I know he's watching me...."

A bit terrifying to know God has me always in his/her eye, but also, a great relief. I'm not alone, no, never alone. Me and the sparrow, just like that, the apple of God's eye....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.