Free as a Bird

birds cropped AYFinally it’s January. The New Year brings me closer to spring and the possibility of more emotional energy. Dark December is always the hardest month for me. I keep praying that God will increase my desire for him, but other desires trap me and I feel somewhat numb and lost.

I gripe at God. “Just tell me what you want me to do to get out of this place.”

I think of people I know who struggle with long-term illnesses. They too long to be free as a bird–as free as the swallow that my son-in-law, Jeremy, saw while he was in hospital for the nth time because of Crohn’s disease.  His song Swallow is about that desire to be free. Click on the album cover for the link to listen to it. Here are the lyrics:

by Jeremy Braacx

Geometric ShapesSwallow,
fly to your home
in the wall of the hospital.
I am stuck here inside,
and you may be,
but I’m not free at all.

My dance partner has been
this intravenous pole.
I am tired of the spin;
I am so tired of spinning her. 

fly to your home
in the wall of the hospital.
I am stuck here inside,
and you may be,
but I’m not free at all.

My mind’s been going whirr-tick-tick
o the sound of my IV pump.
I have been so tired and sick,
so sick and tired of thinking about–

fly to your home
in the wall of the hospital.
I am stuck here inside,
and you may be,
but I’m not free at all.

     Swallow, fly into my chest.
     Make a nest; build a home.

     Swallow, fly into my chest.
     Make a nest; fill the hole
     in my soul. 

I heard of one who can raise the dead.
Transform the view from my hospital bed.

In the silence as I wait on God and think of Jeremy’s song, a deeper desire rises. The Cloud of Unknowing describes it as “a naked intent toward God in the depths of my being.” Its flame fills my chest with a sharp longing–not to flee this hole in my soul–but to fill it with God and his “unending miracle of love.”

Words come from a softer place in me now. “Lord, deepen my love for you.”

I find God’s reply in the wise words of the fourteenth century mystic who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing: “Though this loving desire is certainly God’s gift, it is up to you to nurture it… fix your love on him… Close the doors and windows of your spirit against the onslaught of pests and foes and prayerfully seek his strength; for if you do so, he will keep you safe from them. Press on then… Our Lord is always ready. He awaits only your co-operation.”

birds AY


O Holy Spirit,
fly into my chest,

build a nest,
make a home
in my soul.

Help me press on.
Close the door of my heart
to all competing desires
so I do not love anything
more than you.


Photo by Anne Yungwirth. Used by permission.
Swallow: Music and Lyrics by Jeremy Braacx 2011. Used by permission.
Album Cover of Geometric Shapes: View from My Hospital Bed by Rick Vugteveen
Excerpts from The Cloud of Unknowing, 14th C. anonymous English author, © William Johnston, 1973.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2014
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Songs and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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