Monday, August 20, 2018

incarnation of fragile

A small avian prophet taps at the glass greenhouse window of my mother’s kitchen. He hovers in the air for a few slight seconds, darting around the stained-glass medallion of a butterfly my sister soldered one summer. (Because, true to form for any older sibling, she has and can do anything and everything.)

He flutters towards the purple petunias baking in the sun which hits the bleached out wooden deck. His eyes are bright and his shining breast feathers are peculiarly dull. The hummingbirds in North Carolina seemed a little fresher and more vivid when I visited them a month ago. Maybe in August summer's color just grows exhausted. It's a lot of chromatic exuberance to keep up for so many months—and in such heat.

Hummingbirds seem to have lost the stability lottery, as never resting your wings must have its negatives. But I suppose sharks operate similarly—although I find shark's plight particularly tragic. Hummingbirds are prey, and most prey is doomed to constant movement, as evasion is the most effective means of survival.

Humans are sort of like sharks in that we are now mostly at the top of the food chain. And yet we keep moving. Why must we?

The hummingbird is such a fragile goodness, whirring through the air with such contingency. But he keeps up his fluttering with regularity.

I am always afraid that the goodness given will always result in an Abrahamic sacrifice of Isaac. Here is this man who prays long and hard for what he wants, only to be met with receiving a command to give it all up, slaughter it mercilessly. What is one to do in the face of Abraham?

There is nothing to be done in the face of this God who demands everything, who marches into every plan you made quite nicely on your own—oh here comes God again quick everyone act like we’re having no fun so he’ll go away—and we’ll get back to the real living once we pay our weekly due of simper, smirk, and wait upon an annoying visitor who dropped in without invitation.

The givenness of things means that they are always able to be given, it means that there is no sheer existing, only a constant giving. I used to think the Eucharist was magic and the priest a sorcerer who incanted words that had entrapped God into appearing on the altar. But it is not so—really, the Eucharist reveals we ourselves as our true identity: receivers.

What is one to do in the face of a constant giver? One who offers sunsets without ceasing and who gives the world with all its flora, fauna, and sweet humans each day with such insistent joy?

What can I do but open my hands to receive what is already there and whisper to the bread that is become God: what you have placed here is beautiful, and can you give it to me again today, please.

And what can Iwe do but hover, like the hummingbird, constantly above the flower that I hope will give up its nectar to me again today.

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