A few days ago a new bird appeared in our yard; a one-legged robin. He flopped around, sat on the back step, looked exhausted, and flew with a wobble. Oh, boy, did we in the house feel sorry for him...so sorry that we went to the compost pile, dug some worms, and took them to the back step for him (or her...hard to know with robins.)
The Robin appeared at least once a day, and someone in the family would take note and alert the others. We speculated on the source of his tragedy, how he would manage his bird-life, and the general novelty of having a one-legged bird in our yard.
This afternoon, the one legged Robin appeared in the yard again, but he'd learned a new trick. He was standing upright and steady balancing between is one leg and his tail. And when he saw me creeping up to make sure my eyes didn't deceive me, he flew away with nary a wobble.
So it suddenly seems that this fellow's tragedy was not so long ago, and that he's adapting, learning, and getting along. And it seems suddenly possible that we've had one-legged birds in our yard before, but never noticed.
Today's sermon was shared between myself and a respected member of the congregation who has gone through several bouts of deep depression. He attended last Winter's "How to Write A Sermon" class clear about what he wanted his sermon to say and worked hard to craft a 10 minute sermon out of his experience. I added a few of my own thoughts. It was one of those mornings when all the pieces come together, as if by magic. Furthermore, both services were packed full, making ours surely the only church in the city at capacity on the third Sunday of July.
Some people came because some come every Sunday. Some came because they hadn't seen me in a while, and some came because they were being welcomed as new members. Some came because they knew Ron and wanted to support his "coming out" story. Some came because they, too, suffer from mental illnesses, and a bunch of members who had always seemed to me to get on perfectly well told me about their diagnoses and how wonderful it was to have this subject aired at church.
The thing is that there are one-legged robins around us all the time, doing pretty well most of the time, so well that you wouldn't notice if you didn't know, that there was extra effort being expended, a hurt healing, or major adjustment going on. One of the poignencies of ministry is that ministers often do know. We scan the congregation or greet worshippers at the door as one great prayer of thanksgiving and wonder for all that is our lives.