A hope note
Eugene Peterson writes of watching three baby swallows perched side-by-side on a branch above a lake in Montana.
One of the parents came alongside the chicks on the branch and started shoving them to the end of the branch until the one on the end fell off. Somewhere between the branch and the water four feet below, the chick’s wings started working, and it was airborne. The same thing happened with the second one. It got shoved off the end and suddenly found its wings and flew away.
The third chick was different. Not to be forced off, yet at the end of the branch, this little one loosened its grip just enough that it swung downward until it was hanging upside down. But it refused to let go.
The parent was unsympathetic. It pecked at the desperately clinging talons of the little chick until finally it was more painful for the poor chick to hang on than risk flying.
The parent knew what the chick did not. It knew that the chick could fly, and that there was no good reason to resist doing what it was meant to do. Peterson concluded: Birds have feet and can walk. Birds have talons with which they can grasp a branch and cling tightly. Birds can walk, and they can cling. But flying is what they were meant to do, and it is not until they are flying that they are at their best.’
Two voices compete within us humans. One advises, ‘Stay put. Leave that toxic relationship, or dead-end job, and the ocean will swallow you whole.’
But our higher angels whisper, ‘You’re never going to be content to cling when you were meant to soar.’