A long forgotten line from a hymn buried in my childhood was summoned from the depths of my memory recently.
For the line... Von der Erde Reiss Mich Los ... if a word for word translation were given it would be .. "From the earth tear me loose"
This spring I have been watching the eagle nest in Iowa via web cam. I watched the eggs laid, then the eaglets hatch into tiny balls of fluff. Over the next weeks they grew rapidly to be bigger than the parent birds.
As they grew to adult size I was amused to watch their antics. Using their large nest as a trampoline they would spread their wings and jump into the air. At first their feet barely left the nest, but with practice they lifted higher and higher able to hold themselves for a few seconds in the air.
Then came the day when they ventured out onto the strong tree limbs supporting their nest. I recognized that they were ready to leave the nest so every day I watched, expecting it to be the day the nest would be permanently vacated.
To my surprise it didn't happen that way. Even though the eagles could now fly from limb to limb in the tree, they would return to the nest -- to eat , to sleep, to rest. The parents humoured them, still offering meal delivery to the nest.
As I watched I WISHED I could just reach out and throw them up against the blue sky and WILL them to fly high above the limitations of the nest they seemed so reluctant to leave. Did the blue sky above them not beckon them to the freedom that was their birth right?
As I observed them, I realized that they mimicked our own spiritual reality .
Just as the eagles clung to the only 'home' they knew , limited though it was .. so we also cling to this earth, the only 'home' we know.
Oh yes.. as we mature we become aware of our 'spiritual' side... and using this earth as a trampoline we flap our spiritual wings and feel ourselves lifted from the things of this earth. But how temporary that is before we once again land on this earth, comfortable with the things that we know.
With practice we may even spiritually 'fly', enjoying our spiritual highs, our mountain top experiences. We joyfully leave our earthly nest for a time to sit in heavenly places. But again, it is only for a moment. How quickly our faith weakens and we return to earthly things for our sustenance. It is just so much easier to keep our feet grounded on the understanding that this 'home' earth offers, we prefer to 'live' according to the thinking of the world that we know so well.
Our faith just isn't strong enough to leave this earthly nest completely.
I watched as the eagles sojourned in their nest for a season, then observed how reluctant they were to leave their nest to spread their wings soaring high in the heavens, reaching for the sky that has no limits.
So we too for an earthly season are bound by physical reality. We cling to the earth 'built' by God specifically suited to our needs and comforts.
But I see that too often our mind set is much like the eagles. The pull of this earth is stronger than the pull of the blue sky of eternity to come.
Instead of yearning for our eternal destiny we put it off for as long as we can, clinging to the earthly things we hold dear.
May the refrain of this ancient song be the prayer of our hearts...
Von der erde reiss mich los, From the earth tear me away,
Mache meinen glauben gross, Make my faith big,
Bit mire einen treunen sinn, May I faithful and true in spirit be.
Nimm mich ganz mein JESU hin. My Jesus, take me, make me wholly yours!.
(Author; Luise von Hayn,1724-1782)