Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, February 10, 2017


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter

It’s been remarkably warm here recently. The birds sound like they think it’s spring. I listen to the birds sing, because I like the idea of spring, but mostly I listen to them in my father’s honor.

In his last years, in his third nursing home, Dad schemed constantly to stage a “breakout,” as he had done in his previous nursing homes, and get his own apartment again. He was blind, and almost deaf, and he could barely move. He had asked us to get him into the nursing home. But he wanted out.

On his final day, he was so weak he was unable even to eat the sausage gravy, his favorite food, that my wife was trying to spoon into his mouth. But he was able to whisper to her, “I’m going to get out of here and get my own apartment.”

He always said it was so that he could “sit in the sunshine and listen to the birds sing.” There was a very nice courtyard at the nursing home, with sunshine and birdsong. We often offered to take him out to sit on it, but he never accepted the offer. Because it wasn’t really about hearing the birds sing.

“I want to listen to the birds sing” was his mantra and metaphor. It expressed all he had lost and all that he longed for. He was independent and a man of the outdoors. Bird song was a good symbol for him.

I’m not sure what the metaphor for my life is. Perhaps when I’m scheming for my breakout, I’ll frustrate my children with: “I just want to sit in a coffee shop and read a book.” Or: “I just want to sit behind third base and hear the crack of the bat.” Or: “I just want to hold a baby and hear it laugh.”

Whatever it is, I know I had better enjoy it now, while I can, so that when I can no longer see the letters on the page or climb the stairs to the cheap seats or hold the baby close enough to keep it from falling, I can close my eyes and taste the tang of the coffee and hear the roar of the crowd and feel the smooth skin of the baby. In my heart.


I tweet as yooper          1721.

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