The past few mornings I have heard a dove off in the trees just north of the house. His call is a distinctive one, and obviously the reason for his name. He sounds so sad, like he is in mourning for someone he lost. I don’t believe I have ever heard any other type of call from this particular bird or any other birdcall so sad.
Then this morning he landed on my feeder. I have seen doves from a distance. They like to stay close to the ground, and when they fly they have a distinctive sound in their “take-off.” I know they are doves even though I cannot see them well.
When this one came to eat at our free breakfast bar, I was amused. He has the fattest breast of any bird I have seen yet, which I suppose explains why there is a dove season, and not a cardinal or blue jay or, certainly not, a titmouse season. But his head is tiny and round. He waddled down the feeder, taking his time to eat, then look around, then eat some more. Rather than mournful, this bird looks pretty happy, I thought, almost like a little feathered clown.
Isn’t that the dichotomy of a Christian? We mourn for the state of the world, for the state of the people we care about in this world who have not found their way yet, or worse perhaps, those who had found it but lost it again. We mourn that our Savior had to suffer because of that, and we mourn yet more because of the part we played in that suffering. Yet for the same reason, we rejoice. Because of that suffering, we are free, we are saved, we have hope for what would otherwise be unattainable.
And because of that, when the griefs of life come our way, we still have joy, even while the tears run down our faces. Tomorrow our smiles will return. They are permanently etched there while the tears are only temporary; not just joy amid sorrows, but joy overcoming sorrows. Enough so that when others look our way, they will be surprised at how unaffected we are by the sadness around us, just like I was surprised by the jaunty little mourning dove.
Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom also we have had our access by faith unto this grace wherein we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation works steadfastness, and steadfastness approvedness, and approvedness hope; and hope puts not to shame because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us, Rom 5:1-5.