Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mama Bird & Baby Bird

No, this post won't be about my little boy, though most days he does indeed wake up and tell me that he is not a kid but a baby bird. Days like that he won't respond to his real name or allow me to refer to myself as just plain Mama. No, this post is about something else.

***I have to put in a clarification here. Lately, as I've gotten more involved with the birth trauma group and have begun finding what appears to be almost a calling to help women, I've started wondering how to balance all the parts of Inkling on this blog. In that work, I've met some incredible women who believe and live completely differently than me. And sometimes that has tempted me to edit myself here. Because, let's face it, a lot of people who don't follow the faith I profess look at Christians as weird, backward, narrow, or hopelessly judgmental. And I don't want anyone to think that about me, nor do I want to be that way. But there isn't any way around it: I'm a Christian no matter how hard I've tried to shake that label or the beliefs that follow the term. And the truth is that I'm figuring out all over again what exactly being a Christian means and looks like. The only thing I know for sure is that it does not include looking like those cruel people who protest at funerals of military folks. But it does include compassion and love and thoughtfulness and generosity, and all of those things are character qualities of the women I've met. So though we are different, we are also very much the same.***

Moving on to the whole idea of a mama bird and her offspring.....

There was a blog post over a year ago where a woman wrote about the dilemma of mothering small children and finding time to feed herself spiritually. I remember writing her and saying that I wished there were some way someone could come alongside young moms and feed them, and how the Bible talks about how God gently leads those that have young. Neither one of us ever followed that idea any further.

Until today.

It dawned on me today as I was driving home from a Bible study at a church in the next town that I'm getting that exact thing right now. You see, we're doing Beth Moore's study on James. That means we're watching a video of her speaking each week as she explains the Greek and Hebrew, the Jewish traditions, and the original intent with each passage and topic we cover. And we get a book with homework for each day that allows us to dig in deeper.

It suddenly occurred to me that she is basically functioning as this sweet and diligent Mama Bird, finding the bits of meat and tearing them off, even chewing them a bit before giving them to us, the Baby Birds.

It's like this, I sit in front of a video of her and she explains how the word "greetings" in the first verse of James literally means "joy to you". And later on, she talks about how the term "to look intently" literally means to bend over and look closely. She explains that the seemingly simple term "glorious Lord Jesus Christ" is referring to the idea of the Shekinah glory and just how important that is. And there are a zillion more things she dissects for us and carefully spells them out so we can really grasp what each verse is saying. These are all things one could do if they had an amazing seminary library at their disposal and time to pour over texts, do Greek word studies, and read up on Jewish customs and history.

So this is how God gently leads those that have young.

The interesting thing is that I'm carving out time to do my homework when my son naps, and he knows he HAS to have a rest time even if he doesn't sleep so that mama can do her Bible study. And I'm attempting her suggestion to commit the book to memory while working out on our elliptical after the dishes are done and the male portion of this household is asleep. That is so much more than I ever did with any other study back in the day when I actually did have a seminary library at my fingertips and time (not to mention syllabi and course requirements) to get me digging deep into homework. Maybe it's the desperation and the feeling of starvation of the past long while that has made me like a frantic Baby Bird, eagerly waiting with open beak, ready to eat up anything placed in my mouth. Fortunately, Beth Moore is a wise and good Mama Bird, so the food she offers is good and filling. It's like the more food she offers, the more eager I am to eat.

It reminds me of the Oregon Juncos we watched some months back when the adults came with their babies after there had been a mishap with one of their nests. We put out food and watched the adult birds feed the babies. But as each day passed, the babies began learning how to eat bigger bites and open their mouths wider, and then they learned how to find and pick up food for themselves. But even after they were big enough to do that, the adult birds were still diligently feeding the babies, just at a more relaxed pace.

I wish I could say that this study is going to "change my life", but I can tell you that the only way it will is if I actually make a habit of doing the things I'm hearing. I look back at too many of my Bible study books and see my notes and wonder why they fall flat and seem lifeless. It's because I didn't actually do too much beyond just listening and letting it touch me. So check back with me in a year or so to see if I'm actually "doing" what I've been hearing.

But in the meantime, know that there is one tired mama who has been so very grateful to assume the role of hungry baby bird. Yes, it is true. He does lead those gently that have young.

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