Falling is Flying and Flying is Falling

A Spirituality of Falling_Trapeze_HS

Staff_McDermott, TomThe fact that I saw anything at all was an accident.

I got on my Trek folding bike Tuesday morning to ride to work. It was the first time I’d been on that thing in a couple of years. It’s almost clown-like really — 16” diameter wheels, about 2 feet shorter than a standard bike length. If the seat didn’t sit up so high, it could be mistaken for a child’s bike minus training wheels. But it’s the only working bike I own and the morning was just too beautiful to be in a car. It’s not so much that I feel the need to defend my ownership of the thing, but I often remind folks that Lance Armstrong trained on the very same 8-speed bike to vary up his routine. He said it helped with his focus on balance.

That’s probably what I should have been thinking about as I started off down the block toward Montgomery Street and the Trinity Trail when I kicked up the pedaling cadence to cross over and made a 90 degree left turn across traffic. The back wheel flew out from under me and the left side of my body slammed to the ground, elbow and hip first! (Linda told me later, “Good thing you were wearing your helmet!”)

I jumped up from the middle of the intersection, dragged my bike and bruised self to the curb, examining it as I gave a confident “meant to do that!” look when a couple of drivers slowed down to see if I was okay. The truth is, I was lucky. Cars were already slowing down for a stop-light and nothing was broken — some scrapes, bruised shoulder and hip.

I gathered up my ego and backpack, re-adjusted everything and decided to take the back road through Trinity Park — a little slower.

So, it was an accident that I saw anything at all.

nest bwI stopped along the park road to catch my breath and heard the unmistakable sound of a mature Blue Jay giving short, high shrills and what sounded like a baby chick chirping not too far off. I looked up and saw where the Jay was perched in a pecan tree nearby. About 10 yards away, I could see a nest and the Blue Jay’s young chick balancing on the edge of that nest and chirping wildly. I stood, straddling the bike, quiet and still, and watched for a long time as the two birds called back and forth.

The older bird, “Try it! Come on. Trust me!”
The smaller one piping, “I can’t! It doesn’t make any sense.”

The older, “You were born for this!”

The younger, “It’s too high. It’s too hard!”

The older insisting, “All things await your opened wings!”

The younger, still hesitant, “Okay, I’ll try. NO! Okay. Wait!”

The two birds called from nest to pecan tree, pecan tree to nest, until is seemed that they were both one and the same voice. It occurred to me that both beginner and master, nurtured and nurturer, created and creator, were of the same voice — as if the one were in the other saying, “This is what we do. Fear and flight are one and the same reality, terror and discovery. Joy is the freedom in the leap. But there’s only one way to come to that wisdom. And it is always a leap of faith.”

And then, just like that — I witnessed the young Jay fall and sputter… and suddenly take flight! It was only from one tree to the next. And I’d have to say, it looked as if the little one was both exhilarated and a little confused by what had just happened… but also a little wiser, no doubt.

Amidst all of the morning traffic and the bike crashing and the rush to start our workday, and the persistent anxieties we carry as we awaken to our day … here was this energizing call of life, beckoning us to be what we are meant to be. I am reminded of the words from Isaiah 40, “Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “god has lost track of me and doesn’t care!”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God is creator of all you can see or imagine. God doesn’t pause to catch a breath… The Holy of All energizes those who get tired. Those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles.”

This Sunday, as we conclude the series, “A Spirituality of Falling: the Blessings of an Imperfect Life”, I invite you to join me as we think about “Falling Upward — First Flight” and reflect on the music of Paul Simon, the Steve Miller Band and Patti Griffin, along with some humor from our Improv 1st comedy group!




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