Flying with the flock


By The Rev. Jeremy Myers

Every winter, Seymour goes to the birds in the very best of ways.

Local wildlife authorities estimate that somewhere between 20,000 and 45,000 sandhill cranes call this region home. Sometime around late November or early December, they begin showing up in the sky above and the fields around town.

They are usually heard before they are seen, though. They aren’t exactly the quietest of neighbors. I am always listening for the sound of their voices floating on the wind. It’s not uncommon for me to stop in my tracks and scan the sky to look for them when I hear them. If you’re ever driving past First Baptist Church and you see some loony twirling in the parking lot, staring at the sky, fear not, the pastor is bird watching.

You may or may not know that sandhill cranes are incredibly social birds. It turns out that all of their noise actually serves a purpose. They are communicating with one another.

Sandhill cranes are known to form mating pairs, which they maintain for life. Not only that, but whole family groups will flock together for life, as well. So when you’re standing in a parking lot watching the birds soar above Seymour (they are incredibly elegant flyers for being as long and lanky as they are), listening to them call and respond, you may see another bunch of birds fly up and join the bunch.

Apparently, great aunt Sandy just called out to let the fam know it’s time to go. These amazing birds understand they are better together and they need one another.

This is a lesson many of us are learning or remembering these days. In the age of quarantines and social distancing, we’ve come to understand the vital nature of communication and interpersonal connection. We are all grateful for the wonders of modern technologies such as cellphones, tablets and computers that allow us to interact with one another at a safe distance.

We’ve learned the immense value and the equally imposing limitations of living life in the digital realm. We’ve come to value real person-to-person communication and will probably be extremely slow to take for granted the blessing of physical presence. Much like our noisy neighbors in the sky, we understand the comfort of hearing a familiar voice, and we long to fly together once again.

The words of Hebrews 10:23-25 have continued to ring in my mind recently. The author writes, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…”

I am fully aware of the challenges and dangers associated with the global pandemic we continue to endure. Our church has opted for a path of extreme caution, closely following the guidelines provided by the health department, and will continue to do so.

In no way am I suggesting folks should feel pressure to return to large group gatherings right now. I am suggesting we need to make connecting and communicating with one another a priority.

A proverbial winter has been upon us for several months now, and it has forced us to migrate to digital fields, but spring is coming. Winter will pass, warmth will return and there will come a time when we will be called to once again gather with our family and friends in person.

I know we are all eagerly awaiting those days with great expectation. And when they come, may we hold tightly to the habit of meeting together. Just like our cranes, we were meant to fly with the flock.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

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