Leave it to something as mundane as the traffic report to bring me back to the reality that God is good.
On the morning after a tough day, I was not in the best mood. Usually, I'm consumed with some creative endeavor that shakes the sleep from my soul. However, on this day I did not hit the computer's on button. I didn't jump into my creative mode and listen to Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac." To be honest, the day before was so difficult I simply felt like a sapless tree. So I did something other writers would view as awful. I flipped on the TV.
There was a commercial about a pain reliever that works twice as well as all the others, and it reminded me why I stay away from daytime shows. Companies buy time because people like me tune in.
The commercials led to the local news and the usual litany of teasers about the "big stories" ahead and the earth-shattering news that the weather is going to be sunny in Colorado again. (Now you can really tell what kind of mood I was in.)
Then the perky anchors cued the traffic reporter in the million-dollar chopper. I usually tune out the traffic report because it means nothing to me. My commute is between 30-45 seconds, depending on how fast I can find my socks in the dark and make it to my home office.
The picture switched to a familiar camera shot, but something was amiss. Gone were the lines of cars and glowing brake lights. Instead of bridges and miles of pavement, I saw housetops, power lines, a valley, a lake. Centered in the picture was a white-headed bird with a giant wingspan — a bald eagle, bold and majestic, gliding over the hillside.
The traffic reporter said something like, "I saw my first eagle in Colorado a year ago near Evergreen, and this is my second chance. I'm just going to follow him."
For a full minute — an eternity in TV news — the producer allowed the scene to unfold. The bird adjusted to the wind, turned a bit and kept flying. I heard the high-pitched whine of the chopper and the shaky voice of the reporter describing how he'd spotted the creature.
The sight of its flapping wings over the suburbs captured me. It wasn't a hostage standoff, a natural disaster or even live coverage of the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Just a bird flying toward snowcapped mountains in the west — and I was riveted.
I wonder if others feel the same way. How many would watch a beautiful bird fly over billboards and dodge power lines? My guess: a lot.
How many times have I clicked the remote to find a football game and passed a giraffe being born, only to have my kids say, "Oh Dad, go back! Go back!"? Something in us longs for the beauty of a graceful bird. But most of the time, I can't get my eyes off the traffic, let alone find an eagle to follow.
The traffic reporter sensed his time was gone. Finally, he said, "There's not really much happening on the roadways. I'm sticking with the eagle a few more miles. Back to you in the studio."
If you were a traffic reporter and you wanted to stay employed, that may not have been the best decision. But I cheered. The reporter's closing words sounded like such a good philosophy to this guy on the ground.
Wherever you are in life, find the eagle and follow it. Find something from the creative mind of God, and revel in it. No matter how bad the previous day, how difficult the morning, a measure of marvel is there somewhere if we simply look for it.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.