The cedar waxwings arrived yesterday. Waxwings are wonderful, mysterious birds. Here in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, their visits are brief. They come to our backyard for a few hours in February, and then they journey on. If we are lucky, we get to see them. I was a lucky–blessed–to get to be near the waxwings this week.
The fleeting visits of these beautiful birds each winter remind me of the profound wisdom of creation’s rhythms, creation’s liturgies, if you will. In the midst of the chaos and conflict that so often accompanies human calendaring of events, it can be life-giving to pay attention to creation’s biorhythms and their reminder of God’s goodness and grace.
I crafted this poem as a prayerful imagining of what kind of internal spiritual resistance is needed if we are to reclaim for our often contentious times healthy heart and head space so that we can do our part to cultivate communities of Gospel hospitality, healing, and hope.
The waxwings visited today. They
know when at winter’s spring-ward edge
to harvest our backyard cedar’s bounty
of berries. Sometimes the grace of
February wildness tugs my eyes skyward,
and I see them, masked urban foragers
warming naked Jack Frost trees with
ephemeral browned-butter flames.
They dapple still-cold skies with tails
dipped in sunflower yellow, and then
they are gone, leaving no sign they
were ever here at all. But as I watch
them fly away, an ancient promise
caresses my face. When uninvited
strangers occupy our terraces, hold minds
hostage to chaotic rhythms, desperate
to rewire fragile dreams to their own
gravitational forces, this is how we
resist. We synchronize our wings to
creation’s pace, breathe in and out
the spiraling balm of hope. And then we
live as people who remember, who
know in the marrow of our bones:
the waxwings will visit again.