Learning To Fly: A Meditation on Change

I would like to take you with me in spirit to a place in South Africa called the Karoo. This is an arid and somewhat inhospitable world – its hot, semi-desert conditions stretch for many miles in every direction.

Tall, silent mountains keep watch over this place.

Sheer cliffs drop off these mountains – sometimes for hundreds of feet. Silence, and the sort of peace only nature without humans can produce, pervades this rugged place.

It is home to many birds of prey, among them the eagle.

These birds build their nests high up in the cliffs on ledges which are largely inaccessible to any creatures other than a bird. They usually only raise a solitary chick each season which, as it grows, is left alone in the nest for long periods every day while the adult birds search for and provide it and themselves with food.

Imagine it – a secure home in the sun with a view to die for, hearty meals served several times each day and loving, protecting parents – what more could any youngster want?

And so, day after halcyon day, the growing eagle basks in paradise – and grows strong and sleek.

Then one day something stirs in his mother’s instinct – “This kid is ready to fly. Ready to face the world and learn to fend for himself.”

So, instead of being the providing and protective mother, she causes the chick some cognitive dissonance by starting to kick the nest to bits.

Can you imagine the gamut of emotions the youngster must run?

“Why is she doing this? What’s got into her all of a sudden? She doesn’t understand my special needs any longer! Life is such a bitch!”

When the nest is beyond repair, and the youngster is facing the void between the rock face and the valley floor, his mother starts to flap her wings ominously close to him.

Eventually she pushes him off.


And then he does what he was born to do – he spreads his wings and flies.

Have you ever wondered what it must feel like in that instant when, instead of free fall, the young eagle feels the first rush of wind beneath his wings and he does what nature has so marvellously equipped him to do?

What if he hadn’t spread his wings?

Unlikely, but his mother would have flown beneath him and taken him on her – until it was time for him to go again.

The Bible suggests that this is what God does with each of us when we are ‘ready to fly’ : “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him” – Deut. 32:11-12 (KJV).

Why spend our days in the confines of a solitary nest growing dumb, fat and happy when each of us was born to fly?

When we face change, I think God is often pushing us to the edge of our ledges, asking us to do what we were born to do – ‘spread our spiritual and emotional wings and fly’.

And, should we fall – then “underneath are the everlasting arms” – Deut. 33:27 (KJV).

In gay life we are constantly being pushed out of nests – our ‘safe havens’, our comfort zones, our retreats and our ruts. Sadly, we often allow our special sexuality to stunt our growth and clip our wings, leaving us indigent and overgrown in nests that have become too small for us.

We must take our place among the whosoever (a word which qualifies no particular person but embraces every one of us) Christ died for – and fly.

And to what purpose?

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8 (NIV).

If God is for us when He pushes us out of the nest, who can be against us? In all these things, we are more than overcomers through Him who loves us : “they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31(KJV).

So, take heart GLBT friends – He only stirs up the nest for those of us who are ready to and can fly!