For about a year, I’ve been slightly molting. Ironically, since I want to be accurate and sure that it is “molting” I’m doing, and not “molding”, I took a short visit to my close friend Google. Here comes the ironic part. Yes, I’ve molted not molded. (Not the ironic part). See, a feather can’t heal itself when it is damaged, it has to be completely replaced. And a molt is when all or part of the feathers are replaced. Definitely, that’s what I was talking about. I know, I know, here is the irony: “Molting occurs in response to a mixture of hormonal changes brought about by seasonal changes.” Oh yeah, that’s it, um-hmm, I’ve been molting.
I love the picture of something damaged being replaced. You know, sometimes damage can simply be repaired, but in something as light and essential to the process of flying, it must be completely replaced. I think about a year ago, I had too many broken feathers, and became earthbound. That’s not so bad, because things look pretty good from that view too. But there is a part of me that was made to fly, and broken feathers, instead of being tools, become dead weight.
“Seasonal changes”. That is a powerful descriptor of life. Friends and relationships change. Yup. Jobs change. Yup. Nests change. Yup. Titles change. Yes. Pets, children, schedules, loves, hopes, names, plans… seasonal changes.
So, I found I was exhausted. You? And frustrated. And disappointed. And no longer tender, pliable, willing, oo-oo – “moldable”. (I knew that was in there too somewhere.) Are you seeing you here too, a little?
As I have prayed through my season of molting, a quiet God voice has lovingly directed my thoughts to feathers in need of replacing. Broken habits of holiness, squeezed out sacraments of silence and solitude, delayed confessions and repentance, tight fists around control and rigid grips on expectations. I had rather let my wings go a bit, and I’m looking ragged in the soul department.
My research continued to tell me that it takes a lot of energy to build new feathers. That would be reeeeeally frustrating. Seasons of brokenness, if anything, are rarely characterized by a good back-log of extra energy available for building with. Ahh, but here is some more great news. It takes energy, but not striving.
Have you ever seen a bird and thought, oh, he’s growing new feathers. I can tell by all the effort and striving, the furrowed brow. Nope. God set a process in motion when He created the little creatures, and while it takes energy from the bird, it does not take striving. I’m told that molting usually happens in seasons of less strenuous demands, like after nesting or before migration. At strategic times, feathers shed and renew.
Well my chickadees (unlike buntings and warblers), an annual molting can be a good thing. Don’t be discouraged. Broken wings need care and time. That is the quiet work of the Spirit. Old things can become new. The weights that beset us, we can set aside. We can become transformed by the renewing of our minds, setting our thoughts, affections on Christ. And as we spend a season earthbound, waiting on the Lord, God is renewing our strength so that we will once again mount up with wings as eagles, and fly.