Perceptions

When I feel a sense of weariness creep in, because the queue of deadlines seems to be getting a little too long, I find it helpful to occasionally stop for a few minutes and allow my mind and heart to relax.

Sometimes I’ll step outside onto the balcony or I’ll sit in my chair near the large glass doors and give my sore eyes a break by looking out at the beauties that fill my view. From my vantage point, the scene is one of abundant trees and overgrown fields, with mountains rising in the distance. The dense clusters of trees have a deep green hue that has a soothing effect just from looking at it.

I imagine the birds must think the same thing, because everywhere around the house teems with birds of different types and sizes and colors. The bright yellow birds are my favorite. They’re not only beautiful to look at, but they also have a strong, cheerful song.

As long as I focus on the distant beauties, it’s nearly impossible to feel anything but inspiration. Unfortunately, like life, all isn’t perfect when I focus in closer. Heavy black and gray cables slash through the beautiful scene just feet from the balcony like ugly strikethrough lines across a framed picture. They try to capture my attention as if attempting to mar the beauty of this perfect gift. Across the little street below, a small house is topped with a large satellite dish, and an old, unused concrete light pole stands askew in the middle of the scene with its upper section missing and spikes of rusty rebar shooting out of its top at all angles. It seems to serve no purpose other than to interfere with nature’s color and design.

I was trying to relax during one of these pause times, but instead found myself looking a bit too much at the drawbacks of this otherwise beautiful scene when God began to chide me in His special way through a little skit, with His creatures as the main performers. As I watched, a bit put off by the less-than-inspiring additions to the setting before me, my favorite yellow bird landed on the wires just a few feet from the edge of the balcony and began to sing me his choice little tune.

All of a sudden, those wires lost their ugliness, because it struck me that if it hadn’t been for them, this little angelic encourager wouldn’t have been there singing to me. As I began to relax, a pair of radiantly red birds perched themselves on the satellite dish. They looked so comfortable and peaceful, and they stayed there for a long time, giving me a chance to enjoy their little interactions with each other. They seemed to be communicating so enthusiastically that I could almost imagine them discussing the events of the day. My focus and enjoyment in observing them seemed to make the ugliness of the antenna melt away as it became a stage for this cheerful interlude.

Then the crowning event unfolded as dark clouds began to quickly roll in. I expected the little show was over, but I was about to see that it had just begun. As the rain began to pour down, an entire chorus line of swallows and sparrows accompanied by my yellow encourager and several red birds began gathering all along the black wires. They were chattering happily in the rain, letting it wash off the dust and dirt of life, as they playfully hopped and cheeped like a bunch of little children playing in a sprinkler.

The downpour only lasted a few minutes. As the sun began to peek out again from behind the black clouds, I looked on my special view in a way that I hadn’t before. It struck me that so much about what we face in life, especially in the short term and up close in hectic times, can look so ugly and seem to be ruining our view of the hopes and dreams of the more distant future. But so much can change if we let God show us how those seemingly ugly things that get so in-our-face at the moment can at times be the avenues for the blessings and beauty and awe that He wants to bring into our life. If we could only remember that they are just the stage being built, on which He can give His most precious treasures of joy and hope and the reminder that there is beauty in everything He sets before us.