Words for Hope: Consider the Birds of the Air

Dad loved New Year’s Eve. He loved to clean out closets; he loved to organize and plan; he loved fresh starts. New Year’s Eve was a big event in my home. Dad had a sacred time he directed for us to think and plan. We always had many people over for New Year’s Eve for games, food, and my mom’s legendary popcorn confection. During the evening, Dad would gather us together to pray for each other, and then he would pass out a blank piece of paper. Sometimes we would create a shield like a coat of arms for the new year with images of how we wanted to live for God. Sometimes we would select a keyword or verse and write down a few goals.

During our time this New Year’s Eve, my middle daughter Ariana selected a word that everyone initially thought was a joke. We chuckled until we saw she was in earnest. Most people had selected words like commitment, intentionality, peace, and so forth. Ariana selected the word sparrow as her keyword for 2022. She said she selected this word because it contains so many beautiful images and reminders.

I woke this morning thinking of her word as I watched the sparrows outside in my neighbor’s tree. He has numerous bird feeders, and I counted about twenty-five birds sitting on branches or swooping down to the yard. They twittered and flew about with what seemed to me sheer delight. Their activity felt joyful and full of gratitude. I thought of the verses in the Bible about birds and sparrows, and Ari’s selection seemed perfect for 2022. I would love to have the heart of a sparrow—to trust God fully, to view my labor as easy and fretless, to engage in community with delight. 2022 is the first year without Dad physically present. I know he would encourage me to consider the birds of the air who do not sow or reap or store away in barns. He would remind me to live 2022 with this sense of gratitude and hopeful abandon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying, add a single hour to your life? 

– Matthew 6:25-27