It was the Sunday morning after Easter, April 23, 2017. I arrived at church around nine o’clock, parked in the back lot, then headed towards the sanctuary.
Walking by our fellowship center, Providence Hall, I noticed some shingles that looked as if the recent winds may have loosened them. I then looked at the original part of our building, checking to see if there may have been any damage there.
It’s not often that I look upward for that short trip on the sidewalk. Most of the time, I’m glancing at my feet, watching for uneven cement that might lead to a stumble.
I had forgotten that we have a small cross on top of a very high steeple. The cross is painted white, and stands about three feet tall. It’s been there forever, I guess, but I don’t know the history. There’s no doubt that I’ve seen it many times. I can’t, however, recall any of those occasions. This time, I will remember.
On top of the cross was a crow, a big black bird, whose reputation is less than stellar. I stopped on the sidewalk and stared for a few moments. That uninvited black crow was perched atop our historic white cross. He was at the highest pinnacle of our church. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
I didn’t realize I had company, until I heard a friendly voice. “What does he think he is doing?” On the other side of the street corner was Rick Harville. He was taking his dog for an early stroll. Rick was also staring at the crow. He was grinning, thinking like I that it seemed pretty brazen on the crow’s part. We shared a good laugh. The crow cawed twice and flew away.
The crow was gone from his perch, but not from my mind. Our pastor preached from Song of Solomon, not a typical passage that pastors dare approach on Sunday morning. He brought a good sermon about showing love and respect for our mates. Even so, my mind wandered more than it should have, pondering if there was a message somewhere in that crow on the cross.
My first thought was that the crow shouldn’t be on top of the cross. It seemed a bit disrespectful on his part. I had no interest in shooting him, but felt it might be appropriate to at least hasten him on his way. Maybe he needed a lesson in etiquette, a lesson on how to properly approach the cross.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that crow is not so different from me. Sometimes, I put other things ahead of God. It’s not that they are all bad things. Mostly they aren’t. Some are very good things, like family or friends or work, things that deserve our attention. But even good things, if we put them ahead of God, place us in the wrong position at the cross.
It’s tempting to stand at the top. That’s the view that seductively calls us. We are, however, a lot more useful at the foot. The scenery may not be as inviting, nor the path as exciting, but the rewards are rich, and are stored securely for a later time.
There’s one more thing that I learned from that crow. He wasn’t invited, but he should have been welcomed. He didn’t know he was perched in the wrong place. He couldn’t know, unless someone told him. That crow didn’t need to be greeted by a warning shot. He needed to be offered a welcoming spot.
I’m not sure this column will make sense to anyone other than me. Rick was there. I think he’ll understand. I don’t know if God had anything to do with that crow landing on that cross, but I don’t know that He didn’t. What I do know, is that I plan to look a little less at the cracks in the sidewalk, and look a little more towards the sky. There’s a small white cross on top of our church. It’s only about three feet tall, but it’s big enough for all of us. There’s plenty of room at the foot of the cross.