Friday, September 25, 2009

Nature Unleased

I never thought I’d be grateful for vultures and buzzards, but I am; even though their menacing black descent into my back yard ignited first repulsion and then indignation.

I grabbed my broom, determined to shoo them away; but as I opened the back door, a stench of decay gave me pause. Something was dead – a rabbit perhaps, or the thick three-foot snake my husband had glazed with his driver while practicing his golf swing?

I went back inside to watch as other black marauders circled, landed, and chased off the first-comers that still ravaged through the surrounding grasses and shrubs. A small white feather sailed upward and then floated to the ground. Were they feeding on a bird, I wondered, or had they only frightened one away?

A loud squabble ensued as a Darth Vader shrouded bird chased another to the roof and was soon joined by three others, all fighting over the same scrap of flesh which hung from an interloper’s bill.

I counted 12 vultures in all: ten black ones and two turkey buzzards that later joined the ruckus. The black maelstrom lasted less than 30 minutes. Afterward, I stepped outside to view the aftermath.

I had seen the remains of a vulture party before: a squirrel neatly skinned from head to tail, the remains completely devoured except for the fur; an armadillo’s exoskeleton covered in flies; a pile of feathers, a wing, a mound of fur.

On this day, all that remained was a fragment of unrecognizable bone, and wonder-of-wonders, the nauseating smell of decay was gone. The clean-up crew had done its job.

Wouldn’t it be great to have our own personal clean-up crew to wash away bad habits, pitiful mistakes, unloving actions, unworthy thoughts and desires — the fruits of our failed humanity?

Oh, wait a minute — there is: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16-17

The Lord takes away our sins and remembers them no more. He finds us where we are and leads us into his sheltering arms. He is a loving God; a forgiving God. He comforts us in our deepest sorrow, and rejoices when we reach up to receive his healing gift of grace and forgiveness.

“For by grace are we saved, through faith; and that not of ourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Amen and Amen