Adoption Immigration Done and Bird Room Meditations 6: The Life of Jesus
After being matched with our girls from India, we spent the last month getting their immigration paperwork done. This was a process--we needed to get approval for one document, submit another, and so on. At last we have entered a new waiting stage. Our documents have been sent to India.
They will review our paperwork in India and let us know if they want us to resubmit any documents now that the case is 2 years old. Please pray for us! We would love to be united with these girls this year. We were told it could easily take 6 months from this point.
In the meantime, here is the next Bird Room Meditations blog. In this series I hope to help people find or return to the Christian faith during these troubled times. I have kept a bird room for many years which has given me some insight into perception. I believe that understanding our human limits in perception can help us know God, especially those of us who are inspired by animals. To read from the beginning of the series, start here.
Bird Room Meditations 6: The Life of Jesus
Belief in Jesus Christ is essential to the Christian faith because we cannot change our lives simply by knowing about the love of God and the hope we have in Jesus. We must believe in order to be fully enriched by God’s love. Sometimes people struggle with this idea of belief in God and/or Jesus, though interestingly, the same people will accept an idea like this one: knowing your business will succeed is not enough—you must really believe in yourself. Similar ideas are everywhere in our culture, and I point this out as a gentle reminder that belief may not be as much of a reach as you imagine.
The life of Jesus is complex, and inside this complexity, Christians gain the insights they need to follow the truth path despite the many lures toward depression, anger and fear that constantly surround us. In order to understand Jesus, we need to view His life gently and appreciate His beautiful nature. We also need to realize that the betrayers and detractors He faced are still at work today. We will discuss this in more detail in the next blog, as it is important to understand why those in power feel threatened by Jesus.
Of course, as always, we will challenge our perception with a bird room analogy, and this time it is even more eye-opening than usual.
It Begins with Miracles
God sent Jesus into our world to shock us because we are so deeply entrenched in our false perceptions, the “rooms” of our lives. And we see this from the very beginning of Jesus’s life. As God is shocking us, He is doing so with beautiful miracles thereby infusing us with hope.
Through angels and signs, God makes it clear that someone great and wonderful is coming into the world when Jesus is born.
First, he gives a baby to an elderly couple. This baby will grow up to be a prophet, John, who will pave the way for the work of Jesus.
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness…” Luke 1: 13-14
An angel appeared before the virgin Mary and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1: 28-31
When Jesus was born, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds and said, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people…” Luke 2: 10
And wise men came saying “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2.
What we see clearly is that the life of Jesus begins with miracles, hope and joy. God is sending a very explicit message that Jesus’s birth is a powerful and transformative event for the world.
If you had been a Jew during this time, your life would have remained unchanged … except for the interesting rumors that would be spreading among people and causing the atmosphere of everyday society to change. When you went to work in the fields or to the town well for water, those nearby you would seem a little more energized than usual. Maybe you would hear a direct rumor that a Messiah had been born or maybe not. Either way, because society had changed, you would feel a little more awake and interested in your life than usual. In the room of your perception, a small crack would have appeared on the wall, and very faintly, light would be passing through.
This is how the life of Jesus began. For some, there was a direct revelation, and for many there was a subtle shift, a quiet promise that life could be renewed.
Sending a Messenger into a Bird Room
As you know, every morning I sit on the floor of my bird room with my cup of coffee and hang out with my friends, about 25 birds.
Most of them are one inch in size, zebra finches and society finches, plus a few canaries and one elderly diamond dove. This room is a genial place with compatible species of birds, but let’s imagine that something goes terribly wrong.
Despite these birds having all that they need, they decide to start harming themselves and each other, including their own children, in heartbreaking ways. As their provider, I can come to only one conclusion—that all of these birds are suffering from an illness which is affecting their behaviors, something similar to rabies for dogs. I know that they have all they need, and they were happy before, but they do not know this anymore.
These situations can happen with animals, and the usual remedy is euthanasia of the whole group and the choice to start again.
But let’s say that since I am something of a bird whisperer, I decide to take a more creative approach. I will introduce into the room a “bird of peace,” maybe an exceptional species of bird that is a little larger than my current birds—thus gaining authority in the hierarchy—and one so calm and strong in itself that it will not be influenced by them but instead will be their influencer.
I could go to a pet store, bring a bird home, and release it immediately, but I fear that if I did that, my birds might attack this new one. I decide, instead, to set the stage and create a miraculous event.
I go to the store and buy two canaries, two zebra finches, and two society finches, and I put them in cages with many treats and comforts in three corners of the room. In the center of the room, I place a special table with a glass enclosure for the new species, my peace bird, and I decorate this place with a tree, a nest, a light on the inside and special seeds and bits of bright cloth that the birds can see, but not touch. Maybe I place an old laptop in the room and play Mozart symphonies, and I let the birds feel this change for three days (a long time in bird land).
At last, I bring home my peace bird and let him stay in the glass enclosure for several days so that he can see what the others are like. I release the new canaries, zebra finches and society finches on the day I bring him home as a celebration.
By disrupting the birds’ usual space and creating uncommon yet intriguing events for them, I hope I have awakened something within each of my birds, that spark of life that can fight against disease and death. I have created a new scene in the hopes of saving my birds from the disease that has been killing them from within.
How We Can Believe
There are many reasons people reject Christianity, but two common ones are these:
1. Miracles are just superstitions.
2. Jesus lived two thousand years ago, and his life isn’t relevant now.
I have a simple answer as to why we should believe in miracles. Consider the bird room analogy I wrote above. How many of the events in this analogy were beyond the understanding of my birds, not to mention utterly beyond their ability to do such things? First, I brought home six birds from a pet store. These new birds magically appeared as far as my other birds were concerned. Strangely enough, I placed these birds into cages—something I never do otherwise—so that I could release them at a particular time. Since my birds are usually born in the room, seeing birds in small spaces later released would be strange indeed. Not only that, I created a very special space in the middle of the room with all the things they love, and in it, I placed a bird like none they had ever seen before. And hey, let’s not forget Mozart.
These were fairly easy “miracles” for me. If I had been more creative, I might have persuaded a breeder of the peace bird species to give me eggs, and I might have set up an egg incubation space in the middle of the room. Then the birds would have seen abandoned eggs hatch. I might have projected an image of many birds singing into the room. With a little more technology, I could have really wowed them.
My question is this: if I can create a startling situation for my birds with minimal technology, is it so hard to believe that there is a greater being who can do the same for us? Isn’t it true that animal lovers create miracles for animals all the time? Just a couple weeks ago, my friend found a mostly-grown chickadee that had fallen from its nest, so she placed it in a box and drove it to a nonprofit she knew of which saves wild birds. What was this experience like for this chickadee? It was just gazing at the grass and spring flowers when a being it could not understand picked it up, put it in a giant, humming machine, and eventually it found itself in a sanctuary. Animal lovers are always doing such things.
This is not my friend's bird, but a lovely photo I found online.
Why do we humans fall into thinking that no one is doing this for us? When we look at the grandeur of nature, how do we feel? Most people feel humbled, and that’s worth pondering.
The second dismissal of the life of Christ is the fact that He was born 2,000 years ago in a different time and society. For me, this argument is far less convincing, especially if it is pitted against science which describes the development of the earth in hundreds of thousands of years. What’s 2,000 inside that larger picture? While there are some 7-day creation believers, the majority of Christians believe in some combination of the creation story and scientific data through the relativity of time.
To contemplate time’s relativity, I only have to observe one of my finches or a hummingbird or a fly. All the creatures of this world exist in their own time. It’s impossible for me to move as fast as one of my finches, and I cannot even fathom how it would feel if my heart beat as rapidly as a hummingbird’s. When we ask God to come into our lives, one of the first things that happens is a sudden sense that far more is possible than we ever thought before. We feel within ourselves a willingness to open up, let God work changes within us and let ourselves see our lives in new ways. If 2,000 years had seemed a long time, we become sure that it is not.
A New Joy in the World
When we begin to understand Jesus, we start with joy and rebirth. Of course, everyone has seen an image of Jesus on the cross which is the hardest moment in his life. And yet the life of Jesus begins and ultimately continues, in the resurrection, with joy and peace.
It is not easy for us to embrace joy in this world because we are all stuck in the rooms of our perception. Inside these rooms, though we may have many comforts and tell ourselves that we are successful, we still see violence in the news, meet with people who disturb us with their jealousy or competitiveness, and we sense our own fragility in both physical health and financial security. When someone tells us we have reasons for great joy, we are not so ready to say, yes, that’s true! We are more likely to smirk and assume this person is absurdly naïve. Just think about that. Why is joy such a leap? Where are we, really?
We have to realize what a room of perception means and how thoroughly people can be inside it. The thoughts we choose, the words we speak, the actions we take, the choices of others—before we find God, all of these spring from the culture of our immediate household and the greater influence of society. It is actually easier for us to dwell on Christ on the cross—the hardest, bloodiest moment—than his birth or resurrection. It is hard for us to understand that joy is so much more than a great holiday, career achievement or financial boost in circumstances.
Let’s allow God to teach us joy through the life of Jesus. In the upcoming blogs, I will discuss how powerful people have always rejected Jesus and why and how we see this happening in our society today. Also, I will compare Jesus to the peace bird in my analogy and show that to those in the room, every sound that the peace bird utters will appear to be strange. This is because of where and how we are spiritually and not because the true teachings are strange in the least. Finally, I will show how we can all find liberation through the life of Christ and not only sense a tiny bit of light through a crack in the wall but gain the knowledge that the wall between us and God is crumbling and will someday be gone.