It was a long night, with little sleep, and after trying fruitlessly to Facebook or Twitter myself to unconsciousness with my iPhone, I looked up this week's Lectionary passages. Not that I hadn't seen them before. Yesterday morning I met with my study group, and I read them ahead of time. Well, I skimmed Jeremiah. But I read the others, I thought.
In the night, a Psalm seems right. After all, they are the prayers and songs of people just like us, trying to put into ritual form the human experience: joy, anger, fear, disappointment, repentance, praise and even a thirst for revenge.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. (Psalm 91:1-6,14-16)
And there it was, what I needed to read and hear as I struggled in the night. God will deliver you–us! me!!–from the snare of the fowler.
I'm not a bird-watcher. I like birds, I think they are beautiful, but I'm not a student of birds. I dream of flying, often. The resonance of Songbird as a nickname, a name that goes back to the late 1990s for me, really comes from a pitiful source. In Ibsen's play, "A Doll's House," Torvald refers to Nora as a bird, and when I saw the play in the winter of 1999, I felt like Nora. I was divorced, hoping to meet someone again, confused about what I wanted in life, but lonely. I had made a not-so-good choice about dating someone and wanted to duck him on AOL IM. So I needed a new identity, not just my first initial and last name. Thus, Songbird, which has reappeared in various forms for close to a dozen years now, on my license plate and on my blog and in sundry email addresses.
This poor bird is caught in the fowler's snare, and as my previous blog, Set Free, implied, I knew I was the one holding myself in a cage of some kind. I spent years trying to define it so I could get out of it. But that became a sort of cage, too.
I changed blogs, hoping that would help. I even gave up the nickname, partly, but that makes no difference. It's a cute name. The name is not the problem.
I'm inclined to get tangled up, to be perplexed by human beings in my life, really more in my personal life than in my ministry, though it happens there, too! But especially in my personal life I have been a bird, like Nora, or I have tried to be, at the same time I claimed I wanted to fly free.
God wants me to be free. God will free me from the fowler's snare.
Let's give that a fly.