We have a crow that keeps flying into the window at our church. Every day it flies into it and begins to bang on the window. It’s not so much that it flies into the window as that it attacks the window. Viciously. I had never seen this before and it struck me as quite unusual and somewhat entertaining. Susan jokingly suggested that maybe he saw us eating bagels in the church cafe’ area on Sunday and thought there were leftovers still there. I hypothesized that it has a brain the size of a marble and was thus acting just kind of bird brained. Windows may not seem particularly menacing, yet
Ornithologists estimate that up to 100 million birds are killed each year by collisions with windows. So a crow banging our church window is not unusual at all and hardly would be considered rare. The reason they do this? Windows, especially big (and clean) windows can serve as reflectors giving the birds the illusion that they are flying into a landscape of trees, sky and clouds. If they are being chased by a predator they think of it as a continuing pathway. And when a bird attacks the window (like the crow at our church) it is likely because they are nesting nearby and see the reflection as an enemy bird or predator. They see themselves and don’t recognize themselves as the bird in the reflection in the window. Now, I know that crows all look alike but you should be able to tell the difference between you and your reflection!
There is an old saying: “You are your own worst enemy” and there is a lot of truth to it. Real or imagined we defeat ourselves by being either too hard or too permissive: We may fill our heads with negative talk, low self esteem, poor body image and self loathing or we can be selfish, lack self discipline and serve the desiring of the flesh over the passion of the Spirit. Sometimes we attack ourselves with such viciousness and negativity that we do damage to our souls. Other times we lack insight and self awareness and don’t see the consequences of our thoughts and behaviors and have no self restraint. These two polar opposite approaches to life make us our own worst enemy. Like the bird attacking the window we attack blindly and fiercely, unaware and misinformed.
Have you ever done anything and thought to yourself that this was not really what you are like? Or acted in such a way that you, and others said something to the effect of “I don’t even recognize who you are anymore?” Because we get off track and lose sight of who we really are and what we truly value. A proper view of ourselves and the ability to know ourselves, according to John Calvin, is a pre -requisite for truly knowing God. If we don’t know who we are how in the world could we know what areas of our lives God needs to work on, how do we know if we are growing or getting off track and how do we recognize our passions and desires and evaluate them in relation to Scripture and the Spirit? If we are not sure of what we see or mistakenly think we are something we are not, we deceive ourselves. Saint John wrote in 1 John 1:8-9: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).
We can live like the crow at our window, banging away after a false enemy…a distortion of our selves. A reflection, but not really who we are, good or bad. Or we can view ourselves through the lens of Scripture, through the eyes of Jesus, through the grace of the Spirit and have a valid view of who we are and how God sees us. This takes time and work, patience and process. It is more than a quick prayer before taking communion once a month. It is a life of self examination found in prayer, silence, solitude and reflection. It is a life of prayer and Scripture where we meet Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then we will know the truth. Then we will be set free.