Thursday, May 19, 2011

Singing in the Darkness

One of the things we miss most about our life in Tokyo is songbirds. Oh, there are some birds of a crow variety that remind us of Alfred Hitchcock’s story Birds. But their voices are raspy and threatening, and these vulture-like creatures will attack anything—including people—if they’re provoked.

The hillside behind our house in Kobe was a different scene entirely. There a choir of the most exquisite and talented singers I’ve ever heard serenaded us regularly, filling our spirits with peace and gladness. As I said, we do miss the songbirds in Tokyo.

Needless to say, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the birds here in Anderson. Bernie has purchased a bird feeder and seeds to coax them closer to our dining room window, and they’ve come—first a cardinal couple, a variety of titmouses and sparrows, and others we’ve not yet identified. We’re waiting for hummingbirds to discover the nectar and feeder Bernie added to our window bird sanctuary, but so far, none have come our way. Nevertheless, the song of the birds is a true gift from God to us.

Maybe it’s a cultural difference, but for some reason, the crows in Tokyo don’t sing until the new day begins dawning. Here in Anderson, I realized one morning that the birds were singing even in the early morning darkness. I’d awakened early and was surprised to hear the choir warming up already. It wasn’t long before God used the birds’ chorus to encourage and challenge me.

The news from the doctor wasn’t very good. Blood and test results showed new cancer activity, disappointing news to have to digest yet again. I felt a huge sigh escape from my lips as I began to think about the implications of what he was saying. Naturally, I wished the news were different.

But I was different in the morning. Starting a new day in the darkness once again (I do not like daylight savings time), I heard the songbirds. Suddenly I was reminded, “The birds are singing in the darkness.” As new images flooded my mind, I thought about how darkness represents the negative while light represents hope and life. Sometimes our circumstances are difficult and dark, but they shouldn’t be allowed to dictate negative responses. We can choose how we respond and whether or not we’ll sing in the darkness. My recommendation? Sing in the darkness.

Paul and Silas did (Acts 16). The prison doors flew open, their chains fell loose, and they were free—all because they chose to sing in the darkness.

The birds have made that choice. I have, too.