The caged bird


When Christ shall come 
With shouts of acclamation 
And lead me home 
What joy shall fill my heart 
Then I shall bow 
With humble adoration 
And then proclaim 
My God how great Thou art



I know why the caged bird sings. Heart free, heart-sick to be barred in by the chains and jails of this world.

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, 
his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, 
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee, 
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core, 
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings – 
I know why the caged bird sings.
~Paul Laurence Dunbar~

I sit in my blue swing, and I watch the birds. They teach me. They play, climbing up, up on a draft of cold air and dancing downward in a spiral of thrill and freedom before leveling out. They are the fighter pilots of the natural world, birds. All birds do this. All birds take time every day, so many times, to sing. They sing to no one, they sing to their lovers, they sing just to sing. They eat, taking the random blessing of seeds and grasses and eating, building nests for their young. They care for their young, but push them out of the nest early, when the wings are just barely ready.

I am a stubborn woman, born of stubborn stock. When I turn my mind to something, I work toward it tenaciously. I watch those birds, and think of my cages, and look for keys..." a plea, that upward to Heaven I fling..." Every week, in my dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) class, they try to hand us keys. "Coping skills". Most seem silly, but finally my mind caught on one about three weeks ago: "Turn your mind". In other words, repent. When you think suicide, think about hurting yourself, turn your mind around, all the way, 180 degrees, to a life thought. I stop when the thought comes like the raven's shadow in my thoughts, and I picture myself turning around and looking at something beautiful: my child's smile, my husband's back slumbering beside me, a flower just picked for me, the words of a friend.


And so I beat my wings against my cage, looking for the door. God is leading me, slowly, gently, out of this depression and anguish. His truth is soaking deeper into my soul than ever before.


I find myself sometimes rushing to the feeder, a desperate race of survival, expecting anxiety to meet me there and haul me back into my cage. I need to learn to still my soul and to live in this moment, not the next or the last.


Help me, Lord, to soar high, so close to the Son that I am drenched in light. Darkness, flee from this mind. Sadness, soothe thyself. Fear, calm. Reach for the Son and bask in the warmth, please, please, this fall, warmth.


Lord, help me soar so close to the Son that I disappear into His light. I feel the warmth on my wings, this cold autumn day. He is there. Help me fly closer. Help me escape the bondage of this world.


Never again do I want to be a bird of stone. I want to be the moving, breathing, loving, believing, smiling, daughter of the King I've felt myself stretching into these past few days.

I've been practicing this "turn your mind" for about 3 weeks now, and the thoughts are starting to subside. I guess my foe knows that once I've made up my mind, there's no way to get me back to the twisted, rationalized, fear-gripped place he had me in before. His cage can't hold me.
Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful  and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the LORD. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?" Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the LORD. “I will save you from the hands of the wicked and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel." Jeremiah 5 & 15