It was a beautiful Arizona day if unusually cold. The sky was a deep blue and the sun was shining. I was excited for we had found a new place to walk and explore the desert in the Usery Mountain State Park near Phoenix. (highly recommended if you are in that area!).
Near the end of our walk I spied movement ahead, a bird dashing across the path. He emerged into the bushes and his tail stuck out for a few seconds. “It is a roadrunner!” I whispered to my husband as I tried to get closer. And no, there was no coyotes on his tail; I have been asked this twice and want to confirm it.
No, there was only me following his tail, which disappeared shortly, and we couldn’t sight him again.
I am fascinated by this elusive bird, and it was the second time we had seen one; the first time also in Arizona ten years ago, on a quiet drive in the desert country.
So I had fun trying to draw his likeness and looked up some facts about roadrunners.
Some of their qualities are admirable. They mate for life. They are faithful.
They share the work of raising their offspring. They are responsible.
I’m also thinking they are reclusive and perhaps if a bird can be, introvertive. A sighting is rare, and quite delightful.
I also found out that they can use their wings, but they prefer to run. Their claws create a x shape, and some Indigenous people see them as sacred.
I see Creation and our Creator as a teacher – what am I to learn, if anything, from this interesting bird which crossed my path?
I wondered what he was running from, or perhaps running to?
In my own life, I too ask those questions. What do I run from? When do I hide, and why? Who do I run to?
There is a blessedness to hiddenness; there are beautiful word pictures of trusting in the Shelter of our Creator’s wings. (More bird imagery).
It is also true that some things that have been hidden need to come into the open. This was the case just this past week when a public well-known spiritual leader I openly admired was exposed (after his death) for the harm he did to women.
This deeply disturbed me, including the fact that he used his spiritual authority to abuse those who trusted him. The courage of these women to come forward and expose what was hidden must be acknowledged. I pray for them and all who are affected by crimes of this nature.
Honestly, sometimes I want to run and hide when I hear stories like this. And who do I run to? More and more, I’m learning to run to Jesus, who was without sin, who listens to my honest cries for help and hears the questions of my heart.
The truth of it is, that for those who are in the midst of suffering, God often seems silent. We cannot ignore this. There are some very helpful books written on this subject, some of my favourites are by Phillip Yancey (Where is God when it Hurts), and Luci Shaw (God in the Dark). There are many others.
I’ve come to believe that God, our Creator is there whether we feel it or not. This is an act of faith, a choice of trust, and certainly not always a feeling. Sometimes it is coming to a place of stillness (often in a hiding place) that I rest. The knowing often comes later.
I was wondering how I got from a roadrunner to this conclusion, but my fingers brought me here… typing as the thoughts came. There is mystery to a roadrunner. In the much larger picture, God who created this little creature, is also mysterious. There is so much, on this side of heaven we will not understand.
What I am confident of though is that I can place my thoughts, my doubts and fears, my questions at the feet of One who loves me, trusting that God is there. And so I run to that place of safety, or perhaps I walk, or maybe best of all, I lay my head and rest in the Loving arms that will hold me, always and forever.