Living in the Hard Places

Posted: July 30, 2019 in Uncategorized
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Our guest blogger is Nita Gilger – educator, writer, sojourner in the wide open spaces.

The best of Broadway may find its greatest challenge from a funny little bird. Killdeer birds are incredible actors. Because the killdeer eggs are so vulnerable and exposed, the adult killdeer birds have some well-practiced antics to pull predators away from their nests. Their nests are often very visible in a gravel area or shallow grass. Killdeers have a shrill and loud call as they run away from the nest with the broken wing ploy. If the predator buys the drama of feigned injury, it goes for the adult bird and never finds the nest. The hope is safety. The desired effect is to keep the eggs from being a feast for another larger bird, skunk, or raccoon. When I walk along with my sweet dog, the killdeers go into their performance with gusto. We have no desire to disturb the eggs but how do they know? How does a bold bird with a little bitty brain really know what my intentions are? All it knows to do is what it is created to do. Its instinct to pretend injury so as save its babies.

I recently found nest with four eggs in it is right on top of a gravel parking area near one of the ranch houses. The nest has survived a front loader coming and going filling in potholes from recent rains. The operator noticed the momma killdeer protecting the nest. He took care not to run over them and even asked us to watch out for it. A few days later, a worker arrived with heavy machinery to fertilize the yards. The driver saw the nest and momma and actually stopped and built a little rock ring around the eggs so no one would crush it. These workers are guys who I would not have guessed would have taken time or been interested in taking care of these vulnerable little eggs. But they did take care–a great deal of care to protect life in this very hard place. I hope the eggs survive all of upcoming festivities soon to happen around the ranch. I really can’t move the eggs for concern that they might be abandoned. So, I am left to hope life survives in this harsh, hard environment. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not.

The Bible often speaks of rocks and hard places in its metaphorical way. The Psalmist calls God our Rock and our Redeemer and our refuge and salvation. The Gospel of Matthew exalts us to build our houses upon a rock. If we think of images of rock as solid, dependable ground, these wonderful biblical pictures of God come to the forefront. But there are also biblical warnings about the unwise practice of planting seeds in rocky soil. There is caution given about hardening one’s heart.

How do we live in the hard places of life? The killdeer birds choose open, rocky and exposed places to lay their eggs. They have adapted to protecting their nests with all sorts of distracting behaviors and noises. If I have my druthers, I would prefer images of rivers and flowing waters or lying down in green pastures. I like to think of flowing fountains and living waters. However, not all of life unfolds in the lush, easy places with refreshing waters and peace and calm.

The hard places in my life have a lot to say to me. I know from experience that I can and will survive and flourish with the dependability of God’s care and love. I believe that to be true even in death. My task during the hard place times is to learn and be open to the possibilities of blessing and growth. Hindsight is 20-20. Most hard places in my life have been times to be endured. It is often only when I look back that I can I see how much I have learned and grown. At times, it is only in revisiting my memories of difficult seasons that I can determine that God was really there; God was loving me in and through those times. There in the desolate, harsh places were many friends placed in my life who offered protection, care, guidance, and love.

This morning, I am paying attention to the lessons of the killdeer and the gifts of the hard places. I hope the eggs and I can survive the hard places of the present moment and all that is on the horizon. My prayer is to have the awareness and courage that I need to incubate new life as I learn from the rocky moments. What a gift it is when I can catch glimpses of the gifts of living in the hard places especially in the present moment. Like the killdeer birds, I hope the drama of my life is worth it. I hope I can fully be who I am created to be. And, I hope I stay open to the creativity of God in all times and in all places. Perhaps with heightened awareness, I won’t have to wait for 20/20 hindsight to find the fullness of life–even in the hard places. To Kill a Mockingbird is a major hit on Broadway as of late. Perhaps there will be another show that rises to prominence, a show entitled, The Killdeer Way. I wonder if Jeff Daniels is available as my co-star? Now that would be sweet.

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