Elijah’s Birds

Elijah's birds, study; 2015;  14.5" x 10.5"; watercolor and pastel. Colleen Briggs.

Elijah’s birds, study; 2015; 14.5″ x 10.5″; watercolor and pastel. Colleen Briggs.

In the wilderness, I build a fire for you. I call you softly by name: come, creep near, warm your hands, shelter in my arms.

Like a fearful animal, afraid to trust but desperately cold with nowhere else to turn, you come. We huddle together against howling gusts.

But without warning, a wind-whisper triggers memories just beyond your consciousness, sensations of other arms clutching you close. In terror you leap from my embrace. You kick the fire with all the fury your little being can muster. Sparks flare and rage beyond the little circle of rocks I so carefully and hopefully laid, my tender dream of mutual affection.

Trees clustered close, like friendly sentinels, burst into flames. I panic; I reach for you. You run, wild-eyed and out-of-control into the night.

Then thunder cracks, and lightening dances with trees, lit like torches.

A sudden torrential downpour quenches flames with sizzling ferocity, splatters blackened earth.

I call you by name in the murky dark, this time frantically. I fumble through smoky haze, tripping over slippery, smoldering stumps.

You are nowhere to be found. We are lost to one another.

And then around me, people emerge from shadows, people drawn by the sight of a flaming mountain. They rustle in undergrowth, forage for dry grass buried under soaked bushes. Wordlessly they place kindling in my hands. Like Elijah’s birds (1 Kings 17:1-6), with earnest eyes, they assure me we are not alone.

Together, we lay another fire, knowing only God can light a spark in this dark night.

But as surely as ravens swoop in with meat and bread, enough for the moment, I stand tearfully confident – He will.

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