Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Funny Story With Serious Implications

Yesterday, I started running low on the narcotic I was prescribed for the pain caused by the large chunk of flesh that was removed from my shin. So I stopped taking it, and I realized that without it, the pain was... nearly unbearable. It wasn't too bad, as long as I didn't walk. Or sneeze. Or move. In between heartbeats, it was fine. But with all of those, the minor increase in pressure was almost enough to send me through the roof. I called the doctor, said I wanted to be seen because something was awry. I'll write more on that tomorrow, though, because today's post is about the picture above.

I'd like to introduce you to Lucy. That's what I call her. The cardinal, that is. Lucy has a problem. You see, she has worked hard with Mr. Cardinal to build a nest in a branch that overhangs our two dysfunctional cars. But at some point this morning - I'm guessing right around sunrise, which is when I first heard her complain, she discovered two intruders. As you may know, cardinals are territorial.

Lucy will do anything to keep any cardinal other than Mr. Cardinal out of her territory, away from her nest. She wants to protect it. She would lay down her life to give her eggs a chance. Well, these two intruders weren't like any she'd ever discovered before. I first discovered that she had this problem at about 9:00 AM, on my way to my car so I could go to the doctor. I could hear her complaining, Mr. Cardinal calling plaintively, and this repetitive smack, smack, smack sound. It was almost like someone was hitting one of our cars with a stick.

My first thought was that a child from an area daycare had escaped and was indeed hitting our car with a stick. But no... it was she. Lucy. She was using every last ounce of her tiny body and every bit of energy generated by her fierce desire to protect to attack an intruder. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful. The intruder? Trapped within the mirror of our car. After about 30 seconds, she seemed exhausted - hopped on top of the mirror, ruffled her feathers, and looked around. Then she spotted the other mirror. On the other car. And she was right back at it.

I spent nearly two hours at the doctor's, and she was still at it when I came home. Several hours later, she was still attacking the "intruders" trapped within our mirrors. I laughed hysterically, and stood to watch a while.

I noticed that every now and then, Mr. Cardinal's voice would break through her obsessive, slightly crazy drive to defend, and she would follow him back to reality and "normal life." She'd stay as long as he occupied her, but sooner or later - usually sooner - she came back. I laughed some more.

And then I froze. I realized that I was laughing at myself.

I'm like that. There are things I am battling right now, very real, very intense, potentially dangerous things. Things that I want out of my life for good, that keep coming back. But there are other things - things that can't hurt me any more than those reflections could hurt Lucy's eggs - that I fight just as hard. I will beat myself senseless in so many figurative ways, giving all I have to defeat these reflections.

I am blessed.

I have a Mr. Cardinal. He pulls me back when I'm doing that. And just like the real Mr. Cardinal, he shows no sign of judgment when I return. He receives me with joy and gladness, eager to show me the joy and wonder of the world we live in. He points out the good things. Loves me. Shows his love. There is no shame, no condemnation. Just... love. Even though he knows I've been fighting against reflections, against shadows - things without substance - he helps me fight and holds me close when I'm done.

Mr. Cardinal and my husband have a lot in common. I am so amazingly thankful for this vivid picture that was painted for me today. And even more thankful for my very own Mr. Cardinal. I usually call him Derek or Sir though. I think he'd look at me oddly if I were to address him as Mr. Cardinal.

But most of all, I am thankful for my God. Do you know that some of what we battle is nothing more than shadow or reflection? I know, it's hard, and seems so real. It is so real. It's just that so often, it's not as bad as we think. And He gives us strength for these battles we wage. And when we finally notice Him calling us, and we run after Him.... He welcomes us back. Romans 8:1 - there is no condemnation for us. He doesn't judge us. No name calling - we are not addressed as silly or foolish or wasteful or stupid. He welcomes us, with just love. Unfailing, unyielding, unchanging, unshakable love.

That's all for today - a funny story, with some serious parallels. By the way, did I mention that cardinals have an extremely special meaning to me, and that I have been praying for God to show me one for a while now? Once again, He's done exceedingly above and beyond that which I have asked or even imagined.

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