A Communion Meditation
So we have this little house on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. In the backyard is a little flower garden. In the middle of it, I planted a metal pole (see if you can eat that, you deer!). On top of it, I installed a bird house with an entrance hole just big enough for a wren or a chickadee. Soon a male House Wren began building a nest in it while calling every few minutes to see if he could attract a mate. He did. In researching wrens, I found out that the male starts the nest and if she likes it, she finishes it, rearranging it to her liking—are we descended from wrens or what? We watched those parents go in and out of that house for weeks. Then they started bringing food in and sometimes taking the garbage (like egg shells) out.
One day weeks later, while my daughter and son-in-law were watching, we saw a head appear at the opening, look around, hesitate, and then take its first wobbly flight to a nearby bush. Then another came out and another. One clung to the opening, but the next one pushed him or her so he had no choice but to fly. I think I counted seven baby wrens who flew from that little house, like clowns from a Volkswagen!
Think of it: They went from being taken care of totally, being wing to wing in crowded quarters with their brothers and sisters, to a completely new form of existence. But it was as if they were always being prepared for their first flight, for having to find their own food, escape their predators, and eventually build their own nests.
It struck me that this might be a metaphor for our Christian lives. We Christians believe that we are taken care of by a loving God. We are fed at this table. Then we are sent out into the world to live a life that may be completely foreign and strange—because it’s a life that follows our leader in non-violent support for the poor, the suffering, and the oppressed, a life that takes care of the earth and tries to make community happen—a life we never realized we were being prepared for. We grow too big for the birdhouse. We are challenged to fly.
I’ve never seen parent wrens feed their young after they are fledged. But we have a God who doesn’t abandon us, who cares for us, and feeds us here. And we are in turn moved to feed and support each other through the difficult and often scary flights through life.
For, on the night before he died, he took bread….