The eve of Thanksgiving and the temperatures ride waves in the high 40’s. The sky woke with a movie like sunrise and the colors of the dawn married the veiled clouds of the night and I hardly noticed the frost on the windshield. It’s unusual to hear the songbirds in November, but the tip top of the maples and hemlocks held this high fluted chorus. Wikipedia calls it their “vocal organ”. Their diverse and elaborate song. I hear them, and it’s no wonder to me. I don’t know calls well enough to know who was singing, but I heard their joy sung out loud and all I could do was look up and breath in. They spatter dark against the gray sky, wings spread and then folded in again as they dance tree to tree and limb to limb. They’re there, all gathered as family and singing and it’s a delight I want to know.
I love the words of Job, crippled with pain, yet speaking tall, “Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you….For the life of every living thing is in his (The Lord’s) hand, and the breath of every human being.” Job 12:7 & 10. Breath. Ah. The Hebrew people have but one word, ruwach (roo’-akh). It includes wind, breath, mind, spirit. And those birds in the sky are up there singing with the wind, pushing breath out with intentional song. Their minds on the course of gladness and their spirits, preserved, created by God! And it’s clear to me what they’re doing at this late season, crowding up close to the clouded sky, they’re singing their Thanksgiving to the Designer of all things now living.
It seems so fitting to me. This month long giving-thanks theme that the kids and I have routinely set our thoughts on. But those birds, they seem to take it one step further. One flight closer. And although our Thanks – giving tree dangles with the long list of gratitude, I realize my breathing is maybe a bit shallow. Maybe a bit too short. Twenty-six days of hanging paper leaves on a couple of broken branches hardly seems like a full breath. A full ruwach.
It’s been nice. The fall season has been mild and, maybe, so is my life. No big trauma, no insurmountables, no impossible knots to unravel. And if there’s all these no’s, did I forget to focus on the ‘yes’? The yes of flight and soaring and even song singing? Yeah, singing. Because when you’re singing, isn’t that one of the few times in life we actually breath the deepest? When our diaphragms demand we pull air more deeply into the body until we feel grounded right in the belly. When you expand until you can’t expand anymore and you suck air in through your nose so your vocal cords don’t dry out and you find yourself choking on nothing at all?
Ah. It’s sinking in. The singing that the songbird knows and eagerly participates in involves this deep breathing. This deep ruwach. Deep wind. Deep breath. Deep mind. Deep spirit. And she takes that singing straight to the sky! She finds the thinner air to be the finer line, unbroken, uninhibited from being closer to her Maker. She’s risen above the world of turkey and stuffing, of black Fridays and black highways and she’s there finding joy in the simpler things. Simply breathing the space between her and God and it all comes tumbling out in song. Yeah, I need some of that!
God says, “I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.” Psalms 50:11 NLT. He also said, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26 NLT. So, friend, if the birds, so watched over and cared for, are up there, throats outstretched, throwing their vibrato into sound waves of Thanksgiving, shouldn’t we be doing the same?
So we tape it to the wall over here and we’re branding it to memory, “Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp. He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry. He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalms 147:7-11 NLT. Friend, we can breath the song of thanksgiving because He offers hope and love beyond whatever feels normal or deserved. So, go on, point your face to the sky and sing out your love song. And breath. Ruwach.
And in everything, give thanks.
~in pure song,