Gifts on the Road

The sun warmed my skin as I rounded a curve in the road on my Sunday morning walk, my eyes drawn up to gaze into the clear deep blue dome above me. When I looked down again, there, to my surprise was a tiny bird's nest. I picked it up, amazed. I'd never seen such a small nest before, and when I looked inside, there was a miniature coppery pine cone, not moving from the place where it seemed to be secured.

I hid the nest safely in some undergrowth and continued my walk. When I returned, I picked it up and took it home. Later, hidden in a small brown paper carrier bag, it went with me to morning service at church.

I'd been asked to pray for the children that morning before they went down to Sunday School. I came across a small bunch of them in the church foyer, looking for all the world like a modern version of the 1950s TV show, The Little Rascals.

I interrupted whatever mischief was brewing and told them I was looking for a "show-er" and a "reader out-louder." Before long they went from bravado to nervousness and back to confidence again--and I had two accomplices.

When the time came, I was surrounded by a little crowd of children who still had no idea what was in the mysterious carrier bag. When Jessie, my "show-er" peeked into the bag, she gasped, her eyes wide with awe. Carefully and seriously, she picked up the nest and showed it to the other children and to the congregation, holding it like the great treasure it was. It was Wesley's turn next, to read in The Message version of the Bible, part of my favourite psalm; Psalm 84. In a voice that was loud and expressive, he read the words about God's house (which I had imagined that morning in the blue dome of the sky,) and the God-of-the-angel-armies. When he finished, the congregation spontaneously broke into applause.

Later, over plates of food at our post-service potluck lunch, the little nest went from careful hand to hand as the adults also gazed in wonder at its intricacy and perfection, and I thought of Jesus's words, recorded in Matthew 18:3-5 about how we need to go back to square one and start over like children to see the kingdom and get into it.

"And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-travelled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn-Zion! God in full view!"
Psalm 84:5-7

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