rising high?

The other week, I spent some time with that well-known Isaiah passage
that includes the image of those who hope in God
mounting up with wings like eagles.
In the course of that time, I ended up reading
several articles specifically on bald eagles—
which I have seen—
high over the Choptank River on Maryland’s eastern shore,
and circling both the East and the Gunnison Rivers in the Colorado Rockies.

Now, the eagles referred to in Isaiah were not bald eagles.
They may even have been buzzards!
Of course, had I been the one writing,
I too would have named large, high flying birds,
strong and majestic in the distance—beautiful in the distance—
I would have named them eagles as well!

Anyhow, I learned some things I continue to contemplate.
A bald eagle’s bones are hollow,
and while the birds themselves weigh 10 to 14 pounds,
their skeletons weigh just a bit more than half a pound.
They are created to fly.

They have more than 7,000 feathers—the cumulative feather weight
actually weighing twice as much as the skeleton!
But the layers of feathers are necessary both to aid them in flight
and to provide adequate insulation in the cold upper elevations.
They are created to fly.

Their feathers (their beaks and talons, too) are made of keratin—
the protein used to make our own hair and nails.
Extending on opposite sides of the shaft of each feather
are parallel branches called barbs.
From each barb extend short branchlets called barbules.
A complex network of hooks link the barbules and barbs together
to form the vanes on either side of the shaft
that make the feather look like a whole.
They are created to fly.

They fly up to 10,000 feet, well insulated,
soaring on wings spanning six to eight feet.
The muscles of their wings
(and the muscles that drive the downswing and raise the wing
comprise at the very least, 25-35 percent of the bird’s total weight)
these muscles propel them forward at 36-44 miles per hour—
and they can exceed 100 mph in a dive.
They are created to fly.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of years ago,
we stopped at Grandfather Mountain.
At the time, they were caring there for a bald eagle and a golden eagle
both of whom had been wounded (shot)—
were unable to fly—to survive in the wild—
They are created to fly.

And our hearts have a hollowness to them
that can only be filled in right relationship.
And it’s when our hearts are most full that they are most light.
We are created to love.

We have such an amazingly wide array of emotions
and while the weight of those feelings can be oppressive or uplifting,
they aid us in real communication
and insulate us from the chill of loneliness.
We are created to love.

Our living is fulfilled only when so tightly knit together
with the living of others in community
that we confront, forgive and grace each other,
celebrate and grieve together, all as a matter of course—
making of disparate lives, a whole.
We are created to love.

We climb the heights of vulnerability,
dive into the depths of honesty,
soar over possibility
on the span of our imaginations
and cultivate the disciplines of relationship
that drive us onward into ever more rich kinship.
We are created to love.

In the course of our comings and goings on the face of the earth,
we encounter many of the wounded—
some wounded by circumstance,
many others by trust abused,
unable to love
to survive an abundant living—
We are created to love.

So what does it say—what does it mean—
if we don’t risk flying—loving
if we don’t mount up with wings like eagles—
if we remain earthbound instead of heavenbound?

That we do not hope in God?
That we do not trust who and how we were created to be?


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