Have you ever tried to think about what the word spirituality means? Take a few moments to think about it while I tell you a story. This story is originally found in Tony de Mello’s book Song of the Bird.
A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” He asked.
“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
Interesting story—an eagle thought he was a chicken because that what he was told he was by all of the right people. Now back to the word spirituality and what it might mean. There could be many meanings. Recently, I was reading a book entitled Awareness by Anthony deMello. In this book, he suggests that the word spirituality means quite simply to wake up. He suggests that most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry asleep, they raise a family asleep, and die in their sleep. Like an eagle who lived his whole life like a chicken.
Often, I confess that I live like a barnyard chicken when I know I was meant to be a soaring eagle. Perhaps during this advent season we can set aside the sleeping life of an eagle living like a barnyard chicken—nothing against chickens. It is easy to get discouraged with all things in the barnyard, if you know all that I am referring to. We can become so distracted with the life on the farm, nothing against living on the farm, that we forget we are citizens of another community.
Advent is the reminder that we are not alone, we have another reason for being—to soar. Like an eagle. It is God “with us” that lifts us up and restores us to our rightful place. So, its time to rise up from our slumber. We are eagles, established by God and for God.
This is my prayer for all of us this advent season, as strange as this article sounds. Life on a farm sounds great but the view from the air is quite nice too.