She was beautiful in crimson. I was transfixed for a good ten, till I realized that this was strikingly odd behavior.
I was watching a bird.
You should have seen her though. Against the bleak winter deadwood, framed against white crisply fallen snow, she cascaded around with such elegance.
Of course, there were other birds. Wrens, I think. Maybe 72 of them, swooping from the tree branches to the bird feeder. They made enough trips to the feeder that I wondered what was in those seeds. It's a seed for crying out loud, but they didn't seem to care. And they were noisy.
But my eyes weren't on the wrens. Just on the cardinal.
Where ever she flew, my eyes tracked her. Amidst the barren trees and bushes, you could find her anywhere, dressed in scarlet. She was beautiful. Quiet, graceful, seemingly purposed. Not making a million trips back to the seed, not talking over the others.
Is this what God intended for his followers?
Including myself, I'm not so sure that we're holding up our end of the bargain.
The world has been dodging us for quite sometime now, rolling their eyes, fuming over our hypocrisies. We're in our own little world of bashing and propagating and belittling grace, with raised eyebrows and low whispers. We're consumed with all that is not of Christ and it shows.
Sometimes the world takes up a cause better than we do. Sometimes people who could care less about Christ sure care more for others.
Take my dad, for instance. Best guy you'll ever meet. Kind, thoughtful, hard-working, considerate, generous.
He'll look homeless people in the eyes and listen. He'll buy the office donuts and coffee. He treats cats like they're queens. And he has never, ever, ever in the history of being my dad - said one harsh word to me.
Yet he does not claim to have a relationship with God.
Do you want to hear about some Christians I know? They'll make you sick, but you know them too. On any given day, I am one of them. We're 72 wrens. Everyone looking like the other, consumed with seed and noisy chatter. Forgetting that we're covered in Another's blood.
Forgetting that we were created to bring beauty to the deadwood.
This winter, I say here's to all the cardinals. Let's make random strangers look out their windows and stare at Christ. Not the gargantuan plastic baby you'll see in someone's yard, but the Christ that caused droves to follow Him. The Christ that caused grown men to climb trees, tear apart a roof, and risk their identity for a cause greater than themselves.
He's God with us and in us. And He's painting the world in scarlet, even still.