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Black bird revelation
Revelation through Acts
The age of innocence: a time forgotten as we mature. Those happy memories seemed so endless when we had so little to worry about as yesterday’s child. Where each day held such wonderment and delight and each night you were held in a torturous crevice, between the covers and the sheets, perspiring and terrified by their presence. How would you escape from their deadly grasp, surely their intentions were nothing less than pure evil?
In those moments of unconscious thinking, when we are between worlds and you are screaming out in terror for your savior’s rescue, can you recall the outcome?
What child has not had nightmares? But should they have continued into adulthood? The summertime was so bright and beautiful; you could taste the ice cream from the Mr. Softy truck even before you saw him. Jing -a-ling, jing-a-ling. Jing, jing, jing, It was a welcome ritual, no, it was more like announcing the forthcoming rite of passage for the neighborhood’s children, not a soul would ever retire the Summer without some change in their lives, this Summer would not disappoint either.
What a special summer this was to be, 1976, our nation’s bicentennial, 200 years free from oppression and persecution for a people of privilege, a privilege born from a desire to not be lorded over and an action to dispose of tyranny. It was an action of perfect unity, bringing freedom for all in that generation and the ones to follow. But for a child, it was a spectacle to behold, the 4th of July had started somewhere between the beginning of the New Year and this summer’s vacation.
This day, a day in mid-June was going to be scorcher, the mercury was at 90f and it was only 10 am. It had already become quite hot around the bay area this late spring and it sure did not look like it was going to diminish with the coming of summer. If you had never been near the Chesapeake Bay or any large bodies of water in high heat, you would not get to experience the triple H; hazy, hot and humid and it was all three for sure that day. Out on our bikes by 9am, that was our ritual, my younger brother Mike and our friend Tommy, well friends that day anyway. Through the community, up the hill and then daredevil down it at speeds that seemed impossible. Many a makeshift ramp inspired by the king of daredevils himself, one Mr. Evel Knievel, nerves of steel and veins filled with ice water. Oh how each of us longed to be so courageous, John Wayne was still our hero on the big screen and we could fantasize about those moments in history past, but with Mr. Knievel, we were watching it as it happened, we were part of that history.
But nothing could have prepared me for what awaited me in my dreams. Why must children suffer so? What kind of malicious act had they committed against another to receive such a fright? “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the LORD my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the LORD my soul to take. Amen. God bless mom and my stepdad and God bless my father where ever his soul may be now and God bless aunt Dot and uncle Harry, brother Mike and sister Cheryl and…
Good night mom, I love you, now time to settle between the covers, some conversation with my brother in the next bed, just a recap of the day’s events and a planning of tomorrow’s activities, down to the creek sounded real good to me. Drifting off in my mind, making mental pictures, but not with much thought, a funny image crosses my mind and I think I could be laughing. Down by the creek, looking into the water for crawfish, thought I, no, just a rock. See some holes above the water’s edge in the bank, promising, cold be in the water below. Searching deeper, engaging my focus at the area below the holes. Movement, I know I saw something? There again a dark shadow, wait, not in the water, on the surface. The shadow is on the surface. Where did the Sun go?
The sound, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh and darkness, I look over my shoulder, what in the world, I am paralyzed with morbid fear, run, run, says my brain, but I can’t even move. Does it see me? Maybe if I don’t move, it will just move on.
What I’m looking at could only be Death itself and now all else around me seems to melt and fade away with one exception, this ominous and large flying creature above me. Again I hear, whoosh…whooshing of its wings beating at the air, it is descending, getting much too close and my heart aches from so rapid a beating. I have slowed my breathing and deepened my inhale as well as exhale hopefully averting its attention.
Then, as if it knows my thoughts and how fearful I have become in its company, it stares directly at me, from above, those eyes, penetrating, searching for weakness, it begins a dive and its target is me.
My blood which had previously been as sluggish as a jelly and my body which could have been mistaken as rigormortic - in a certain urgency - regained their former status and now shifted into hyper self- preservation mode. I frantically reached forward, searching for a root, branch or anything to grab a hold of to pull myself over the bank of this creek, I found a root and tugged, it held. Pulling myself ahead and onto the grassy rise, I quickly rose to my feet and lurched away. In full stride, nothing seemed to appear in my line of sight that could afford proper cover.
Now, before my very eyes, the landscape began to shift and twist, it was as if I had been struck in the head and was now recovering from the knockout, everything blurry and moving around me. It finally settled and started building upwards, as I was still running, I wondered what was keeping me from being sucked into that vortex and for that matter why did the large flying creature-which had become more clearly defined as a jet black bird- not go away with the former scenery. I was now at the base of this monolithic and absurdly tall, craggy face which lorded over the turbulent sea before it, and I, just a mere boy, stood there looking upwards at the monster still progressing at me, as I began my climb to find protection among the irregular surface of this new and strange place.
Why am I here, I thought to myself, I don’t want to die being devoured by a monster. I looked out over the sea; as if I might catch a glimpse of hope coming to my rescue, I only saw the disturbing picture of the ocean swells, kissing a horizon that seemed so distant, with its umbrella of grays, green and other life sapping hues.
The Black Bird continued to close in and I steadily labored in my climb. I had made a favorable effort to find suitable shelter away from the creature and above me seventy to eighty feet away looked like a cave. I must get there before it gets to me, I must, I don’t want to die.
It was going to be close, but unlike other races a boy might undertake in his life, this could be his last. The bird so near, I could see talons of enormous size, their curved raptoresque form, ancient looking and predominantly black just adding another elemental touch to this already menacing bird-like creature. I am at a precipice, once over it I have a straight shot to what is definitely a cave, I can make it, I must make it. One leg over, now pulling along the rest of myself, standing into a crouch and running, trying to become a small target for the beast; I make my hail Mary dash for the entrance, the creature is right on top directly over me its stench fills the air with the foul odor of sulfur, I dive headfirst and I feel something pierce my shoulder and then the warm wet feeling that only comes with flowing blood. I start to rise from above the ground and in my panic I begin flailing in all directions, trying desperately to loosen my attacker's grip. Let go of me I begin half screaming and half wailing; I must break free from its grip, "LORD God help me" I scream and then from the bird creature I hear a shrill and tortured sounding shriek, I continue with my assault, relentless with my kicking, up and backwards with all I have and then, I drop.
I hit the ground so hard it seems as if I bounce, without much thought and with all primal instinct, again I lunge for the cave's entrance that I have found myself not far from. Once inside the mouth of the cave, only then do I dare look back to see if it is behind me, nothing, where did it go? I do not feel safe, even within this seemingly secure dwelling, I just feel so on edge, I am alive, intensely alive at that, yet I still need to have an idea of where that black bird-like monster has made off to.
I thank my God, who has helped me to escape from what certainly was my death. Where is the beast, I inch closer to the entrance and I freeze, that smell again, burning sulfur, its out there, I can feel its presence and the hairs standing out from the back of my neck can testify to it. I shrink backwards into the darkness of the cave, slowly and first and then a bit quicker, back into the shadows and there I wait...and wait. I try to recap what has happened since first noticing that shadow on the surface of the creek, so long ago, at least I think it was long ago. Black bird, talons like those of an eagle, piercing cry, very large, no more like enormous, what on earth could it be? Wait though, I'm only assuming it's from earth, that smell of burning sulfur, not normal; then again nothing normal about this whole affair.
8 For the LORD has a day of vengeance,
a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.
9 Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch,
her dust into burning sulfur;
her land will become blazing pitch!
10 It will not be quenched night and day;
its smoke will rise forever.
From generation to generation it will lie desolate;
no one will ever pass through it again.
11 The desert owl and screech owlwill possess it;
the great owland the raven will nest there.
God will stretch out over Edom
the measuring line of chaos
and the plumb line of desolation.
12 Her nobles will have nothing there to be called a kingdom,
all her princes will vanish away.
I can recall many stories in the Bible talking of a winged creature, who created by God, wanted to be God and jealousy was born, and in addition so was hate. Could this be? Sulfur and the black bird, a bird of prey and that prey not only being my physical being, but more likely my soul.
This dream, this terrible nightmare, has followed me into adulthood and as one reader suggest, it may be a vision and if it is a vision, then what is its purpose?
I believe I know the answer, let me say at least what I suspect, which is there are two paths for our lives to follow.
On one path we help each other, venturing forth with love in our hearts and a mind of service, ready to serve others daily through our actions.
The second path requires we just watch out for ourselves, we never do anything unless we stand to benefit somehow.
On the first path, we still could suffer, with one key difference from the second path and that is we know where the path ends, it ends with a new beginning, something even more beautiful than the best we have experienced here on earth lies at the foot of that cross.
The second path, it may be perceived as golden, the here and now, but what we gain in the present can not be carried with us into our future glory.
I would not desire to have this torment in my future, I believe this is what awaits those who have only invested in promises given through what this world has to offer and like the prodigal son, it will be short lived and unfulfilling. I propose we start to invest in that which can not be destroyed by human hands, or time and that would be in and through Christ. If you are not sure how to do this a good place to start is by reading in your Bible, in the new covenant with God, the new testament and furthermore, the writings of Peter, John, Paul and James are great reference.
I'm not sure if this vision will further develop and I must say that I have omitted some parts of this story to hopefully convey the message without deviating from what I believe its intent was and is. If you have felt this has somehow moved you, then let me say "God does not want you to ever turn back to what you left behind and that is a world that causes us to die prematurely."
God bless you all with the reading of this and may your will be His as well. Amen.