The eyes were blank, staring straight ahead at nothing. No movement. Almost like a statute. I tried talking. No response. What is going on? Are they blind?
I became angry as I walked to the other four cages; the picture before me was the same. Five of God’s amazing creations designed for great things and some to soar amazing heights were ensnared in small prison cells. Each sparse space had one small plastic tub of water and a tree limb. Why are these birds so caged, I wanted to yell. For our speculation? An educational opportunity? For observation? Only one of the stark enclosures had an informative plaque displayed. Only one shared its cell with another; the others were alone.
(The pictures are a bit large in order for you to “see” better; yet, you cannot see the eyes clearly. The great horned owl sits on top of the little house.)
No other inquisitive folks were around, so I returned to each cell and “listened” to the empty sad eyes.
I remembered Tom’s mother’s eyes. Trapped in the confines of dementia, those familiar gentle blue eyes were no longer speaking. Often, I looked longingly to see something of her looking back at me. There were brief, fleeting moments when she returned for a second.
Maybe these birds are ill, I thought. Maybe this is a safe place for them. Still I was intrigued by the lostness in the eyes. There was some movement as I continued to speak softly.
Eyes . . . windows of the heart, of the soul.
Ken Gire’s book, Windows of the Soul, addresses new ways in experiencing God. This is one of my favorite all time books–ever, as it speak to my soul! I am reading it now for the third time. Gire identifies numerous ways in which we experience God IF we see. “I want to live in a way so that I don’t lose sight of what’s important or lose a sense of the sacredness of others. I want to live in a way so I can see windows of the soul.” p36. and in a prayer on page 37, he writes, “I know I won’t see everything, but help me see something.” –(my words now –today, everyday. Help me see into others’ eyes to see their pain, their heart break—-)
I wonder that I so identified with the pain in these winged creatures’ eyes because my own eyes, as well, were full of pain. Did these sad creatures relate to my sadness this day. A huge ache filled my heart; perhaps they saw what was reflected there. We tend to be opened to others who are hurting when we hurt–or I think it should be so.
Was I, too, in a prison cell? Difficulties in life have a way of confining us to our own lonely quarters. Times when it is impossible to “see” beyond the hurt. Unlike these caged birds, I have the promises of His word to “see” in my weeks of heartbreak and sadness. One morning I remember reading the story of the woman at the well. Verse 25 of John 4 gives us the woman’s expectation of the Messiah’s coming one day, “he will explain everything to us when he comes.” The words of Jesus in the next verse literally embraced me. “I who speak to you am he.” I knew in that instant that this same Jesus was as involved in the current painful situation in our family as he longed to be in this troubled woman’s life.
“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.”Psalm 118:5. Then I was able to rejoice in the promise of Psalm 119: 32. “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”
There will be pain and heartbreaks, disappointments and sorrow–this is life. And often times we feel trapped in a cell, lonely and afraid. But the Lord longs to set us free in order that we can soar as the red-tailed hawk. While on our journey may we continually open our eyes to “see”. May we truly look deeply into eyes, hurting with pain and sadness.
Looking at you . . .seeing you . . .