En Masse

Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself.
Carl Jung

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(an October Georgia evening as a flock of starlings seek a place to roost for the night / Julie Cook / 2014)

Their numbers are limitless.
Their sound is deafening.
Their precision is inspiring.
They are just a bunch of birds,
and yet. . .they represent so much more. . .

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Upon first glance, it appears as if there is a giant moving, living, breathing black cloud undulating overhead.
It glides across the sky to and fro, with no particular rhyme nor reason.
It is not following the current of the wind as it sets its own course.
It defies any law of gravity as it goes where it chooses, when it chooses.
The cloud descends, en masse, onto power lines or within the tops of trees with a deafening din of chatter.
It is as masterful as it is precise.
It is greater and more artfully versed than any human could ever hope to choreograph.

To watch a flock of birds in flight, especially a large mass of birds such as starlings and / or blackbirds, is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of birds in one maddening swarm move in and out, up and down, shifting and weaving with such precision, it’s simply difficult to comprehend.

These birds, although individuals, combine to make what appears to be a single living and breathing mass or entity which for all apparent purposes appears to have a mind of its own.
They, these individual birds, must interact with such agility and precision as not to fly into one another as well as avoid colliding with trees and / or power poles. Their ability to work effortlessly in tandem is nothing short of humbling.

As I stand staring, as if in a hypnotic trance, gazing skyward–listening and watching the ethereal ariel spectacle, my mind fumbles for words. I think of the verse in Matthew, Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

That the omnipotent one true God of all of Creation knows the birds.
That He knows each bird. . .
Each bird in this massive, confusing swarm of precise madness, and yet. . .
I am told that He also knows me.
He knows me even more so then He knows these birds.
Knows, as in an intimate relationship. . .
as in everything known and hidden, good and bad. . .as He is said to have formed me (knit me together) in my mother’s womb. . .
the same mother I never knew, yet it is He who knew me. . .even before I was formed, He knew me. . .
I am also told He cares for me more so than these birds.
These birds who are able to dance across the sky with grace and magic, soaring and diving in grand unison.
And yet, He is aware of me.
More than aware. . .He has a deep abiding knowledge which goes beyond acquaintance.
He knows, He sees, He loves.

And as I continue staring at a black cloud dancing across the horizon, a tremendous sense of well being engulfs a weary soul. . .

Perspective

It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how things are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.
Carl Jung

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(aerial view of a traditional German wooden pyramid / Julie Cook / 2012)

Half empty, half full. . .it’s all in how we look at things.

During my interactions with folks within this past week, this last full week prior to Christians marking the birth of Christ or what most retailers mark as the final push toward Christmas with its ostentatious ceremonial gift giving and the annual madness known as Christmas shopping, I have denoted one single underlying theme—a burgeoning wearisome and tiredness–a general lamentation of–“I can’t wait for it all to be over” –always countered with a “I hate to say that” or “I hate to feel that way”. . .

The secular components interlaced and woven throughout the spiritual are sending so many, young and old, into a type of sensory overload. With the news media constantly reporting on retail sales, as if that is the blood pressure reading of an often ailing up and down economy, while also reporting on the traffic nightmares in and around a particular city’s retail giants known simply as “the Mall”. Our calendars are booked and marked with festivities such as the last day of school, which once upon a time was simply known as the Christmas Holiday, is now politically corrected to the Winter break—

There are the Christmas pageants, the Choral performances, the office parties, the neighborhood parties, the gatherings with friends and families, the deadlines, the holiday ski trips, the trips to not only grandmother’s but for some, exotic foreign lands with the “holiday” as an excuse to set sail on Adventure.

Life will come to a slow stop on the 25th as the stores and malls all close for a single day as families and friends gather for the solemn marking of the calendar, as others anticipate and prepare for the following day’s ensuring onslaught known as the “After Christmas” sales and the annual pilgrimage of gift returns and exchanges, marking round two of economic madness.

Amazing how a once young pregnant jewish girl and her young husband, who found themselves in the middle of delivering their first child, in a remote small village in the middle of nowhere Judea, under the light of an astrological phenomenon, sent out the shock waves of a dramatic occurrence which continues the life altering reverberations today.

But the key to the relationship we have with that single event and of how and what we do today in order to mark that single event of so very long ago depends greatly on our perspective. Is it “c”hristmas, with the madness and over the top spending with all of the doings and goings accented by the politically correctness of our overshadowing secularism or is it “C”hristmas which marks the birth of the bridged gap between a consuming Creator and his fallen creation?

It’s all a matter of perspective.