“Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?” Job 35:10
The following is for my 16-year-old granddaughter, who’s only 3 right now.
"Blackbird singing in the dead of night,Take these broken wings and learn to fly, All your life, You were only waiting for this moment to arise
"Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Take these sunken eyes and learn to see. All your life, You were only waiting for this moment to be free.
"Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly, into the light of a dark black night."
Dear Emily Grace,
When you were little, you knew and loved all the typical childhood songs: Baa Baa Blacksheep, Muffin Man, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, etc. You sang them all with the delightful enthusiasm of new discovery. Repeatedly. You excelled at the encore. Repeatedly.
Wanting to add to your repertoire, one day I sang for you the old Beatles song Blackbird, and you loved it. Maybe it was the choreography I adlibbed. We flapped like a blackbird, and opened our eyes wide to see. This became one of your favorites, and we played it, no surprise here, repeatedly. I cherish the memory of turning my rearview mirror down just a bit so we could watch each other sing and flap and see while I drove.
Now that you’ve firmly entered the turbid waters of female adolescence I want you to know why I sang that song for you and why I’m so glad it became one of your favorites. You need right now what this song is about, and though I’ve doubtless talked to you about it over the years I want you to have in writing what I want you to glean from it.
First, let’s just establish the importance of meaning and interpretation. Some texts, lyrics, stories, poems, songs, paintings are imbued with deep meaning. They call to you, and invite you to a deeper, or higher, life. You’ll have to seek this out, for you live in a world that too often shouts its superficiality. God, who wonderfully made you, created in you a need for significance that shouting will never fulfill. Finding places and times to be still and listen and watch is vital. The very good news is that you’ll always find what you’re truly looking and listening for. Always. Good or bad. Deep or shallow. I hope you always make time to look for the divine shimmering around you and listen for the song of eternity. Seek these.
Now back to the song. Singing birds are wondrous, but how often do you hear a blackbird singing in the dead of night? Never. I suppose there might be some obscure specie that sings at midnight, but certainly not the typical blackbird. They sing to the sunrise and throughout the day.
But the blackbird in the song is singing in the dead of night. Why? Because it needed to, of course. It sings like it’s the dawn even though its surrounded by darkness. It does what it was created to do in spite of the darkness.
The same idea applies to the broken wings. Frankly, I’ve never known a bird to fly with broken wings. In nature, I’m afraid that’s the end of the bird. But our brave bird learns to fly even when it appears impossible. And he learns to see even with sunken (unseeing) eyes.
Sometimes, Emily Grace, your wings will get broken. You won’t achieve the heights you dreamed of, and you might not feel like there’s any use in trying. You’ll be tempted to sit in your nest, in the dark, and “beweep your outcast state.” Many people do.
What I want for you, dear Emily Grace, is to be the blackbird. Don’t let broken wings, sightless eyes, or a dark black night keep you from being the daughter your heavenly Father created you to be. Yes, the dark black nights are real and sometimes terrifying, but they don’t define you or determine your destiny. God has already done that. He has given you the ability to see His light even in the frightening gloom. With faith and trust in this smiling God you’ll be able to sing, and fly, and see.
This is not easy. Even our blackbird struggled for quite a while, for he had waited for this moment to arrive and to be free. You likely will have many occasions where the evidence for goodness, love, and grace looks pretty thin, or even damning. Doubt will keep you nest-bound. But there will come a moment of clarity when you will decide to be done with lesser things and summon the courage to try to fly even when everyone around you is shouting for you to give it up. God loves this kind of courage! Only by taking the risk, again and again, will you learn that you never lost your ability to fly.
One final thing. God has a delightful habit of peeking out at us from unlikely places. He winks and smiles as if to say “I’m always here, and this is just a little reminder.” The reminder might be that story, poem, or painting I mentioned earlier. Or it might be a sunrise, or the stars, or a flower. It could be this little essay written by your grandfather many years ago. Maybe this is what you needed to get you out of the nest and flying and singing again. Fact is, God surrounds us with reminders. Be one who sees the light and hears the songs in the night.
Long ago I saw the joy in your eyes. It is a gift from God, and you will learn to cherish it and share it (which is the only way it grows). Trust me, people need your joy. Remember it, and fly.
April 17, 2016