I read a book while I was in Africa last year called Gift of the Red Bird (Paula D’Arcy). A friend had given it to me and I chose to bring it along because I wanted some light reading. I thought Africa would be tough enough to swallow so maybe some short, light essays would help to balance out my emotional state. I believe the book pretty much started with a car accident with the author losing her husband and child, while pregnant and also in the car (don’t quote me on details). Needless to say, I was simultaneously drawn in and yet, as you can imagine, walking around with a heavy heart and nowhere to escape to. Still, a very good book.

I think of the phrase “gift of the red bird” quite often because of where I live. Which is in a breathtaking place that I sometimes still can’t believe I get to call home. We’re situated next to a county-preserved pond, surrounded by trees (eighty-two of which are in our yard, according to my son’s counting). And there are two little patches of trees where I see a male cardinal, all year long. I don’t know if it’s the same one, or two separate ones who have searched out their own little corner of land, but just recently, I’ve told myself to take it as a reminder each and every time I see it/them flit from one tree to another that Jesus loves me. So simple but so effective.

I can be washing my hands at the kitchen sink, look out and see my red bird perched on top of the birdfeeder, or I can be sitting on my living room couch looking out at the pond and notice the red bird flying back and forth between a few small trees, and I will say, sometimes outloud and sometimes in my head, “Jesus loves you, Beth”. And it works. It stops me in my tracks, maybe for only a few seconds, and it brings my heart back to its focus, to its center, to its ruler.

Jesus is my Lord, whether I think about Him once a day or all day long…but I’m human…and I tend to flit myself from thing to thing, idea to idea, person to person.And I need to be reminded that He’s there, all the time, right beside me, living in me, and so if a red bird is how I remember, well, that’s a gift.