Cardinal Devotions

Author:  Rachelle Rieke
 
Yesterday I was grateful for the sun. I am still grateful for it. I am grateful for the way it pools up on the rooftops, splashes on the streets, and drips off the fragile icicles hanging from house eaves as if poured out from heaven. It’s like God’s own cup of glory tipped out over the earth. Though too bright to behold directly, the rim of the cup is yet perceptible as His own hand suspends it unfailing in the sky. My skin tastes joy.
 
I watch the daily gathering of cardinals in the amur maple hedge that lines our driveway. Their tiny feet cling effortlessly to the delicate branches and lithely skip right across the top of the snow as if they are a part of the air itself. I wonder what it would be like to be more a part of the air like that and less a part of the earth. Maybe we could be if we clung less tightly to earthly things and set our hearts on the heavens as the birds do.
 
I delight as the cardinals puff their handsome chests up against the cold as if tucking bits of sunshine in between their feathers. I am certain they taste joy too.
 
Today the sky is gray and dim like a heavy wool blanket – the lumpy kind with big, fat loops. I try to think of its weight as holding in the warmth instead of suffocating. A friend was recently given one of those newly popular weighted blankets for Christmas, and she described feeling like she couldn’t move – almost needing help to get out from under it. These clouds are kind of like that. I imagine the falling snowflakes are threads being tugged out to unravel that gray sky. They’re gathering in neat piles outside my window.
 
Maybe our hearts are a little like that. Wrapped up in fluffy things that appear to hold the warmth in and shield from the cold but really just prevent the light from streaming in. Blankets make us sleepy.
 
Oh, our tender, feelable hearts. Let us not fear the cool, crisp cut of clarity, like the precise faceting of a raw diamond that allows it to become an explosion of light.
 
Let us be unraveled.
 
The New Year seems to have begun this way for me – a stripping of the sentimentality and spiritual baggage that seems to feel good, but is devoid of life. On the first day of the year, the Lord impressed a scripture in Proverbs on my heart: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” I scribbled the date in the margin, sat back and said, “Okay, Lord. Back to basics it is.”  
 
Let us allow ourselves to be unraveled before the Holy One. Let our hearts become unburdened from every weight that grounds us to the earth. Tuck some sunshine into your feather heart, sensitive to even the faintest whisper of a Wind…
 
 and perhaps we too, will fly…

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