Being Bella

There’s a red-tailed hawk that lives in my neighborhood.  I don’t know if it’s a male or a female, but I’ve imagined her to be a lady.  I’ve even named her.  Bella.  She’s big and fierce-looking and every time I see her, which is at least a couple of times a week, I smile.  She’s usually perched on a fence post or power line, her intense eyes scanning the ground for her next quick bite.  She’s been around here for several years now and I like to think of her as “my” hawk.  I look for her every day and it’s reassuring to see her there.  I admire her for being out there, in all kinds of weather, just doing what she was created for.  When I see her, I think of the complexity and beauty of God’s creation.  And that all of us have a place in His garden.
So many of us struggle to find our place in the world.  Families suffer through divorce and estrangement.  Relationships get broken and sometimes are never healed.  Siblings drift apart from one another.  Parents struggle when their children are victims of illness or drug use.  Church families can fracture and grow cold when gossip and distrust take root and are allowed to grow.  Being human means living in a broken world.  Lots of folks try to make their own sense of things and find their own way through their problems.  We see them chasing wealth and possessions, trying to fill the void in their hearts with acquiring things.  Maybe they do okay, on some level.  But that never worked for me.  Giving my life to Christ allowed me to find my own place and to have peace in knowing that He is in control of everything.  But unlike Bella the hawk, sometimes I don’t cooperate with God as fully and flawlessly as she does.  Bella can’t sin.  Her hawk’s will is perfectly conformed to her life and the part she plays in God’s creation.  Whether she’s soaring over the hayfield looking for mice or plucking at her feathers as she rests on the fence post, everything she does perfectly lives out her role in the world.  Bella can’t be anything less than the perfect Bella.  Whereas, I can stumble and sin and mess things up, again and again.
Thankfully, God knows my wounded heart very well.  He knows how weak and sinful I am.  And He loves me.  He gave me free will so that I can make choices on my own.  This is one of the things that makes me (and all of us) different from the hawks and other animals.  Free will allows us to freely love and freely serve Him, but it also allows us to make wrong decisions and wrong choices–choices that go against the will of God, and therefore go against what is good for us.  These selfish choices are sinful.  God will forgive us our sins and welcome us back to Him in the Sacrament of Confession.  He saved us; He is saving us; He will save us.  Thanks be to God!
Whenever I see Bella, I thank God for His love and grace.  He created a beautiful world, full of extraordinary and gifted creatures.  When Bella soars high against the clear blue of a September day, she proclaims the goodness of the Lord.  She has a particular and special role to play in creation and she does it perfectly.  She reminds me that I too was created for God’s purpose and pleasure and the only way I can truly live out that purpose is to let Christ have His way in my heart.  I have to remember and embrace the beautiful words of St. John the Baptist:  “He must increase; but I must decrease”(John 3:30).  Allowing Christ to increase means putting Him first in all things—in every relationship, in every decision, in every moment of every day.  It means picking up the cross that God made just for me and following Him with joy, wherever He takes me.  It means embracing whatever pains or sufferings in my life as Jesus embraced Calvary and offering my pain up to Him, for His purpose.  The more I decrease the more Christ lives in me and through me.  I become a child of my Father and in His joy, He lifts me up.  Like Bella, I rise above everything that binds and shackles me and drags me down.  He gives me a perspective I could never have on my own — an eternal perspective.  Like Bella, I can rise up and see things in a new light, in the light of Christ.  I have the freedom that only Christ can give.  Bella reminds me that God’s blessings are never-ending and He has great things in store for me, and for you.
“If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me.”
                                             Psalm 139:9-10

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Juan R. Velez
    Sep 23, 2012 @ 17:03:41

    We have been made to soar high like an eagle and to be as agile and strong as a hawk. But we have use well the freedom God has granted to us. Like Bella each one has to live according to his nature, praising and serving God in his wonderful creation. But unlike Bella we are called to live in the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8).


    • tiberjudy
      Sep 23, 2012 @ 18:40:53

      As Fr. Juan points out, we must use our freedom with wisdom and prudence, to serve and praise God. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Father. God bless you and your ministry!


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