Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Voice of the Dove

When we lived in our old house and I was alone most of the time with three small children, two doves came and sat on our back fence every morning. I heard their cooing as I changed diapers and fixed breakfast and got the wheels turning on the day.
Doves always remind me of God. It was a dove that brought news to Noah that he could leave the ark. After Jesus's baptism, God's Spirit alighted on him in the form of a dove. Christ and the church are compared to two doves devoted in the Song of Solomon. We are told to be wise as serpents... and gentle as doves.
Doves seem to me to be a symbol of the Holy Spirit which promises to come to us, to comfort us. I've always needed a lot of comfort. I'm usually fretting about something. As a young mom, I got to where I looked every morning to see if the doves were there. Every morning, there they were. Those two birds on the back fence comforted me.
We eventually moved from that house to a brand-new neighborhood. We built our home and watched other houses go up one by one. Lots of excitement for my 2, 5, and 8 year old children. I chose the bricks for this place, the carpet, the tile, the tree in the front yard. Bradley and I bought new furniture, the most important being a large dining room table which we placed in the center of the house. We used the front room for home school lessons, the front yard and bike trails for our playground. There was wildlife in this back country, but I didn't see doves. Perhaps the rough-and-tumble of building construction was too loud. I didn't notice their absence. I was busy making schedules and planning menus and reading to my children.
We've lived in the new house thirteen years, fourteen in September. This is no longer the new neighborhood. (I recently discovered it's not even considered the nice neighborhood.) The dust has settled, people have moved and left their homes to renters who don't pay HOA dues. But we're still here.
Our kids are mostly grown now, my baby is 16. The dining room table is as important as I thought it would be, the most important thing in our house. The finish is worn and sticky, but the leaves still work, extending the table into the walkway whenever we have company. We bought new chairs several years ago from an antique mall, sturdy cherry-finished chairs that stood the test of time, courthouse chairs. My grown children tilt back in these chairs and I haven't the heart to remind them to stop. They are telling me their dreams and adventures. Oh well, chairs. Sorry for you, but you are solid, I bet you can take it.
And the doves are back. I hear them in the early morning and late afternoon. I'm still home most of the time. It's harder to get the wheels turning in the morning without little ones needing something every other minute, but I work in the yard and walk the bike trails by myself. The front room is still for lessons, music students trooping through the afternoons and evenings, and for the ferreting out of books.
I don't see the doves; I see the renters' children chasing one another, so innocent; the teenagers who will do things they shouldn't; the parents driving fast to get to the next thing, outrunning failure. I hear reports of break-ins and shootings and the stupid politics of community. Then every morning the sun rises, and I hear a dove say, "I'm here, I'm here. It's not safe, but it's good." And I think, Okay. Okay, God. Thank you.

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