Open Cages

Once I saved a dirty, derelict bird cage from a dumpster site, brought it home, and then I let it just sit around ever since. Right now it occupies a spot in my office; I’m just  not sure where to put it or what to do with it. It’s quite  rough and old, and, I noticed, really noticed the other day, some oddities about it. First off, it has no floor. The thing has no ability to hold any sort of living creature. It’s also a wee bit skewed on it’s wooden frame,and, even though it has a cute little perch inside, where the door should be, there is nothing. It  really is a forlorn little piece of work; charming in its carved wood and wire way, but quite useless.

I have something like that cage inside of me: a structure I have slowly grown up around my heart and nerves. It’s old,it’s creaky, it hurts, and makes me far less flexible than I would be without it; there’s nothing even asthetically pleasing about it. It’s so easy to crawl inside and swing nervously back and forth on the perch. So strangely comfortable and familiar. My feet know the feel of all the bumps and scratches and bent wires around me. I made all of it. It’s my default. My rut. My natural bent. Sometimes it’s my home. I don’t love it, but I still return to it again and again, like it has some weird control over me.

Control? How could it possibly hold any sway over me? Excuse me! It has no floor….! And,remember?no door…!And anyway,it’s old and not all that strong. Anybody could burst through those rusty and bendable wires.

So if it’s not control, then it must mean that I choose to stay in there because I….. want to? Otherwise, surely, I wouldn’t be giving it so much head space. Sometimes, I even let it take over my sleep and the fears of the day slip over the borderland into the convoluted, distorted world of the night where everything feels slow-motion and dread is stretched out like the sticky dividing of a wad of soft bubblegum. For some reason it feels intelligent to sit and worry. Is it an addiction? An obssession? This cage of fear that I hold inside of me, do I hold it or does it hold me?

I don’t know that,but this I do know. When I go to it for comfort, I don’t much sing in the shower anymore. I don’t live like a child anymore. I don’t live graciously and with a sense of humour either. I become waspish and grasping. I can point out so many injustices against myself that it’s truly astonishing what a pitiable creature I am-hello!I better stand up for my rights or I’ll be dead by nightfall! I live like a cave man on the edge of fight or flight. That slight word, “I”,  makes a broad appearance in my journal and speech. “I” seems extremely precious and fragile; probably on the verge of extinction. And poor “I” is miserable. When is the last time I’ve whistled, for goodness sake?!

So, why indeed don’t I spend more time laughing and trusting and dancing. Is it naivety to choose to be happy when it doesn’t even take a genius to realize that there might be at least a little something to this global warming thing, that people are being stabbed to death, probably right now, and that even more people’s actual lives are being sacrificed for the sake of power?

Why don’t I pick more bouquets and less brains? Why don’t I “laugh the laugh of faith,” like Amy Carmichael so beautifully put into words. Why don’t I believe God when He says “open thy mouth wide,and I will fill it,” – Psalms 81:10, KJV. Why don’t I just fly out of that doorless hole or down through that floorless bottom and sail out over the big fat world and see how pinched and wrinkled my own has become?

Because I’d rather hoard my own fistful of rancid crumbs in the corner, than sit at the gift of a wide banquet table with the saints. Why don’t I trust more? Because I become afraid and  think I can control life…..I’m realizing more and more just how much I let life and fear control me.

In “Perelandra”, C.S. Lewis’s second book in his Space Trilogy, he takes his main character to a planet that consists of water with many rippling floating islands. The little moving islands have trees that bear lovely fruits. Here, he discovers that if you try to hoard up more than you can eat for one day, the fruit inevitably goes bad. Also, there is one piece of land called the “Fixed Land” that Maledil (God) has told the King and the Lady of the island that they must not live on after dark. They may visit it at any time of the day but they must not be on it to stay. So far they have had no desire to break His wishes and they live freely and utterly happy in His will, roaming the lovely planet, riding the fish, and communing with Maledil. Eventually, the “devil’ arrives for the first time and starts to tempt the woman, using all kinds of mind games, trying to get her to defy Maledil’s command that no one should sleep for a night on the island. He tells her that wisdom can enter this world through her if she but has the courage to disobey. Ransom, the main character, who is listening in on the many twisted conversations, becomes very worried that sin will enter this beautiful, foreign planet just like it did back on his home planet, earth.

Spoiler alert!!!! Ultimately, the Evil One is defeated and the Lady does not defy the command of Maledil and with new comprehension she says these beautiful lines. ” The reason for not yet living on the Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure – to be able on one day to command where I should be next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave – to draw my hands out of Maledil’s… to put in our own power what times should roll toward us…as if you gathered fruits together to-day for tomorrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And how we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?”

What beautiful trust. Just the kind of trust I want to climb back into.

“God, my shepherd!

I don’t need a thing.

You have bedded me down in lush meadows,

you find me quiet pools to drink from.

True to your word,

you let me catch my breath

and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through

Death Valley,

I am not afraid

when you walk at my side.

You’re trusty shepherd’s crook

makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner

right in front of my enemies.

You revive my drooping head;

My cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God

for the rest of my life.”

Psalm 23          -The Message Bible

I want to tear down whatever it takes to be “back home in the house of God,” not that creepy little fearcage.