As the years pass, eventually some birds fly away, some stick around, some we pass by and others seem to fade from view. But there are always birds on a wire, somewhere in front of us, keeping our eyes on what's to come.
Trouble is, the more birds that fly away, the more important the ones on the wire become.
In fact, those little birds sitting on the wire start to carry a mighty weight of expectation, anticipation and hopefulness. Even now, looking out my window, I can see the powerlines starting to sag under the pressure.
The burden of my hopes spread on the shoulders of one hundred sparrows, cripples the few now left to carry them.
And there is the fallacy of hope. The longer we live seeking out the opportunities that will fulfill our hopes, the more important each one becomes on the journey of contentment. Being hopeful isn't just about blind belief – hope is stirred within us once there is a possibility in sight, once there's a bird on the wire.
Hope isn't always what you need though. Sometimes hope is a red herring and a distraction. Sometimes hope spends all it's time asking for you to cast your eyes heavenward, to watch, to wait and to place expectation on something other than the here and now.
I've watched a few birds fly off recently – projects that didn't work out the way I dreamed, relationships that haven't turned out to be smooth sailing, things that used to excite me that just don't have the same energy to them anymore.
Long hoped for places of belonging have become reminders of my alienation, my unusuality and my isolation. Hope doesn't have much for me right now – but being grounded does.
Be careful where you promote hopefulness as a cure-all to the disease of loneliness and sorrow, to the mother recently miscarried or the lover recently betrayed. Some birds need to fall before they can learn to fly. Carrying on is what we need to learn.
Carrying on for a moment can be enough. That it's acceptable to take the pressure of those little birds, our desperate hopes and dreams. It's ok to simply take a moment and be – whether that is being sad, being realistic, being angry, being delirious.
You can cast your eyes up to the sky some other day, but first maybe you need not to drown in the longing for your hopes to be fulfilled.
There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. When you're drowning, it's not the time to be distracted by thoughts of the birds overhead. It's time to swim to the other side. So carry on then, carry on.
This essay was originally published on www.tashmcgill.com.
Tash McGill is a professional writer and communications consultant who has been involved in youth ministry for 15 years, working in local churches as a volunteer and bi-vocational youth pastor. She is passionate about adolescent development, community formation and hospitality.
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