The lessons of the past two weeks have hit hard and touched my heart deeply. The image of an open field this morning didn’t surprise me given the nature of those lessons. God has used images of cages and fields many times over the past few years in His lessons dealing with love, but He’s never used them together until this morning.
On Monday, God took me back to a time when my heart was as open as it has ever been in my life. I spent three beautiful days camping in the woods with a dear friend. Open fields and beautiful woods created the perfect environment for honest communion that freed my spirit. It was a time of simply being honest in a place of complete openness. In the exposure, there was no place for my heart to hide. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, God was present in a very intimate way.
I told my friend that I felt like a caged animal set free for a weekend. Hearts belong in open fields, but I returned to my cage immediately after that beautiful weekend afraid to venture back on to the field. On Monday, memories of that weekend flooded my heart in a very healing way. Cages have taken many forms over the years, but my fear of venturing on to the field has remained firm. I love “Sympathy” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar and can connect to the image of a caged bird. Singing and cages come in many forms.
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!
Maya Angelou’s autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” also strikes a familiar chord in my heart. Attempts to leave the cages in which I’ve found myself have left me bruised and sore but never completely free. God put a special time of openness into my path forty-two years ago, and He brought back those memories in a vivid way this week. I haven’t had the faith to venture into His openness until this morning as I walked with a dear friend. Instead of the woods, Rita wanted to walk around the football field. I always marvel at the way God orchestrates my learning, but He undid me today. The openness of the football field was the perfect backdrop for His lessons in love that caught me totally off guard. The players would say I was blindsided:)
Love is an open field, and I’ve always known that. My heart yearns for openness and pleas for freedom, but my body and mind continue to confine and control. I remember a time when I was free to be who God created me to be. My heart has been beating its wings against bars for forty-two years. God reminded me, yet again, that I am the one who continues to shut and lock doors. Faith is the key that opens those doors. God is waiting for me to find faith that will allow my heart to come out of the cage and head out on to the field. I know God will provide all my heart needs and more if I will only trust Him. I am eternally grateful for loving friends who gently nudge me on to the field and cheer enthusiastically for me.
Like many of my friends and family, Rita worries about my love life. She relayed stories about friends finding love late in life this morning as we walked. When we finished walking, she looked at me with a big grin and said in her beautiful Boston accent, “You need to start playing the field!” Right on cue, the football team came out of the fieldhouse wearing broad grins and dressed out in maroon and white. I had to smile and marvel as God used a group of dedicated Maroon Devils to teach an important lesson on the importance of getting out of the cage and on to the field.