I took my dog for a walk the other morning. It was the perfect morning – that type of day where the sun is shining and everything is clear and vibrant and there’s just enough breeze to keep the humidity at bay. I was lost for a moment in the beauty of it and the unrealistic thought that maybe I could just keep walking all day and not do anything else. Something on the road caught my eye and I came back from my land of make-believe and looked down. It was a baby bird – so young that it didn’t have feathers yet, and very dead. It was a jarring and discomforting sight and I felt bothered by it and by the cruelty of death in nature – some poor mother bird was watching helplessly as her baby tried to fly and failed – and knew it would never come back.
It got me thinking about the closeness between life and death – especially this time of year – we watch as plants spring up, veggies in our gardens, flowers that find their way to our dining room tables – we keep tabs on the bird couples building their nests outside windows, and smile involuntarily at the first sight of little bald heads peeking over the rim of twigs – we ooh and ahh over baby foxes frolicking and moan over weeds that seem to appear over night – and then, just like that, we see baby birds on the road, a neighbor’s cat disappears after sounds of barking coyotes – some make it, some don’t – and we try to shrug it off as “survival of the fittest” – just life. But in a strange way – it IS really “just life”. Our introduction to the Christian life and one of the first acts on our behalf is Baptism. A baby – fresh and new and expectant – still soft-skinned and squirming – we die – dipped into the waters of Baptism and rescued out the other side by Jesus. It’s jarring and discomforting. And life is full of these deaths and re-births. Sometimes spread out and sometimes all together in a moment. And why shouldn’t it be – since the creator of the world died so we could have life. In an instant – life and death in an incredible collision – like a perfect summer morning.