Saturday, November 27, 2010

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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 its 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!

Sometimes we suffer and feel pain; I can't think that there isn't a reason for it.  My heart feels like the caged bird's wings right now, but I know those scars are going to be a part of my being from here on out.  I'm reading a book called Little Bee at the moment.  It's about a Nigerian refugee girl, named Little Bee, who went through a great tragedy in her homeland and then spends two years in a refugee detention center in England.  Little Bee describes her point of view of scars as something beautiful.  How could we imagine that we aren't going to go through this time on earth without acquiring the scars that will make us beautiful in heaven one day?
We all have wounds and scars.  Some of us have spent a majority of our lives covering those wounds up so no one can see them.  I think when you do that, you don't allow the fresh air to heal it.  My wounds are pretty visible right now.  I don't want to pretend that my wings are all ok.  I think that with time they will heal and scar over, but it will be beautiful.
I am blessed.  I don't want to pretend or wallow that this isn't true.  I am surrounded with amazing people who will let me heal and help me fly.  I am uplifted by a God who uses all things to magnify Him, and I believe that the reflection of His light on our scars is part of His plan.  Perhaps it isn't in the greatness of our moments here on earth that truly reveal our purpose, but in the grieving times like these.  Perhaps it is when we see our tattered wings that we realize we can't do any of this on our own.  We must rely on the grace of God to heal us over and make us stronger so that once again we can soar with His majesty in a greater way.
I'm sure Paul Laurence Dunbar had many more things in mind when he wrote this beautiful poem, but I can't help but feel some sort of connection to it today.  The wounds are healing slowly.  My boy has flown free.  My scar will remind me of this, and I will see God reflected in every nuance of its shape.  Like some scars, I may even forget it's there from time to time, but I'm sure that those moments will come and I will haphazardly run a finger across it and once again, feel its grooves and picture on my skin.  Maybe by then I will even smile at its memory.

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