Playdates with God: Look Up


The morning is dark today, sun hiding behind a chalky sky. Through the window I see the tip of the Maple is beginning to turn, green leaking into gold. The change of season is always cause for celebration but my mind has been too preoccupied lately to notice. Still, I feel the shift in my spirit. The birds are gathering their flocks and congregate in mass along the power lines.

Perhaps you’ve seen them too, these past weeks, as they glide across a frame of blue sky; Hundreds moving as one, inking out the sun as they soar and dive—their hearts pulled by some invisible string as they join that great rhythmic dance that spins us all.

Just last week a great flock of migrating Purple Martins roosted in the large oak at the mouth of our neighborhood. When I saw that black cloud hover and the tree humming with all those songs, I hurried up the street—eager to get a closer look at our old friend the tree—all decked out in living baubles.

As I stood there in the middle of the street—neck arched upward for dizzying moments, something amazing happened. Those birds took flight. And the way they swooped and dominoed through the sky made my stomach drop—it felt like I was flying with them, and my heart was lifted by their communal dance.

Does it do that to you too? This looking up? It stirs something deep inside of my soul. And I wonder, is it because they are so close to the heavens that their journey seems lifted by joy? Surely they can feel the very heartbeat of God from where they are.

But it’s more than just these winged travelers that give the lift. There is something about shifting the gaze, something about that tilt of the head, something in this physical posture that changes the ordering of my spirit. I have learned over the years that when there is something troubling me…if I go outside and simply look up…there is almost always an immediate lightening of the load. It doesn’t take the burden away but when I look up at that great expanse of sky…I am reminded that I do not carry it alone.

I am satisfied lately with these small meetings with God. Stepping out-of-doors and gazing up at the morning sky or the stars as they canopy over me—this is where I have found peace in this fast-moving season. When I lift my eyes to the heavens, I am reminded that there is more than one way of seeing, that there are real things my frail eyes cannot see and my hands cannot hold. This is the mystery of faith, how the invisible carries.

Have you tried it? Look up. And let the eyes of your heart be awakened.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess


  1. says

    I agree with you about this soul-stirring time of year, with its clearing skies, browning grains, and the great flocks gathering and waiting the mysterious, unknown-to-us message to fly to the next home. This season makes us look up.

    Love your descriptions like this:
    Perhaps you’ve seen them too, these past weeks, as they glide across a frame of blue sky; Hundreds moving as one, inking out the sun as they soar and dive—their hearts pulled by some invisible string as they join that great rhythmic dance that spins us all.

    Thanks, Laura

  2. says

    I was reminded of this passage from Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation over the weekend, “the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.” That’s what your observation of those birds reminds me of – an invitation to take our place in the great dance of life, casting off our cares.

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Laura, this is breathtaking and one of my favorites of your essays. Have I read this before? I’m thinking so, b/c I believe it coincided w/ the same phenomenon in my life, when I saw black birds doing this mid-air pivot, when I was driving to a meeting. I had never seen anything like it. anyway, this is lovely. And I also love the idea of looking up. there are psalms which capture this concept, and this act was so helpful to me when I was writing my books. When I got stymied, I would literally look up, and implore the Lord for His help and guidance. Mercifully, he always com;plied!
    Love you!!!

    • says

      Yes, I think I’ve shared this before, Lynn. It never ceases to amaze and lift, though, does it? Praying for you, my friend. This is a busy few weeks, but I hope to catch up soon!

  4. says

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for hosting. I just love looking up too. We have seen a couple of monarch butterflies which makes me very happy. There used to be many monarchs around … last year I didn’t see any so seeing a couple is very exciting.

    • says

      I’ve only seen a few this year too, Janis. Have you seen that special called “Great Migrations” on public television? It has a wonderful segment on the Monarchs. Thanks for stopping by! Much love.

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