I have a rigid interior clock that does not usually deviate from its rhythm. Therefore, when I found myself wide awake at 6 this morning, it gave me pause. Seriously, I get up at 7:03 every day. That’s right: 7:03. Why my body has started to register minutes as opposed to “oh, the sun’s up. let’s rise, shall we?” is beyond me, and if I start thinking about it too much, I’ll probably come to the conclusion that my body somehow knows it has less time on this earth than I think, and then I’ll REALLY start freaking out. Oops. Too late.
I felt a bit of grace through this early rising, however: like I was being given a chance to take some time to quiet a mind that’s been rather stressed the past few weeks. So I went out to our library room and meditated for a bit, watching the sun slowly start to rise, turning the sky from a hazy azure to pink, then orange. I picked up my Bible and prepared to settle my mind further in lectio divina, or meditated reading. It’s a slow, rhythmical reading of Scripture where you allow the words to just unfold within you, and when a word or a phrase catches your attention, you take time to dwell on it, to meditate on its application to your life in that moment, in that place.
The Psalms are a great for this, because the Psalmists run the whole gamut of human emotion, from anger to fear to hatred to love to joy to praise to despair to pride to humility. It’s all there. Many people are turned off by the Psalms because of this. This is supposed to be the “word of God?” All this hatred and violence? What gives? But the Psalms show this relationship between God and man where man has a voice as well, and aren’t there times when all of us feel hatred and joy, love and despair- sometimes even in prayer? But I digress…
I read Psalm 124, one of David’s “songs of ascents.” Part of the Psalm reads:
Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
When I read this, an image began forming in my mind of that bird in the snare. I sensed the panic, its heart racing, the recognition, instinctively, that this hindrance to flight was very very very wrong. The panic increases when all attempts to escape just seem to trap it even more. Remaining still is not an option, that way lies open only to death.
Then I began to think about what happens when someone tries to help the bird. All too often, the bird struggles even more.
I began to think of what a snare is meant to do: it’s such a simple device that causes so much pain and hurt. The reason? It lets its victim work with it. It depends on the struggling of its victim to achieve its end result, which is often quite gruesome. Here’s a description by Rosemary Groom, from her blog at Wildlife Direct:
Snares are hard to find and thus hard to control. Snares are wasteful – poachers often set them and then fail to check them, resulting in the death of animals which end up just rotting in the bush. Finally, snares are inhumane. Animals are caught in snares when they put their head, or a limb through the wire noose, which then pulls tight as the animal attempts to escape. The animal then dies through asphyxiation or through dehydration. In many cases, animals manage to break the snares, leaving them to walk around with a cutting ligature on a limb, or dragging a broken branch to which the snare was attached.
A lion caught in a snare – an unnecessary waste
Even when the snare is broken, it can still cause pain if the animal carries it around, or can’t get completely free.
So why did my eyes open a little wider pondering all this? For one, it seemed as if the Psalmist was recognizing the pain when he writes “the snare was broken.” For some of us, spiritually, this can be a painful process. We panic, we struggle- even when someone is trying to help us. The struggle may even occur after we have escaped- the memory of a painful event can stick with us, sometimes overwhelming us again, until it seems like we are right back in the heart of the snare.
“And we have escaped” reads like a sigh of relief. One can imagine the bird spreading its wings, finding use for them again, in essence realizing once again, instinctively, that it can do what it was meant to do, and be who it was meant to be.
I pray the Lord releases us each and every day, that we may truly be who we are meant to be, in His eyes.