Sunday, October 05, 2014


Sunday Reflection: The Owl and the Crows

Two years ago, we did the Trial of Jesus at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California.  It was a remarkable experience, but there was one moment I have been pondering ever since.

Walking across the campus, I saw a crowd standing under an old tree.  They were all looking up into the tree, so I did too.  An owl was sitting on a branch.  That, in itself, was remarkable.  It's rare to see an owl-- and I have to think it is rarer still to see one near downtown Pasadena.  What people were watching, though, was this:  Two crows were attacking the owl, trying to knock it off of it's perch.  They would fly and dive at him, talons out, over and over.  The stolid owl seemed to ignore them, just turning his head to the side now and then and clutching the branch.

A seminarian got a good laugh when he said "The birth of a thousand sermons!"

It seemed right-- that this scene in the middle of the campus of the world's largest evangelical seminary would have readily available meaning as religious metaphor.  But, for two years I struggled to find it.

If we are the owl, who are the crows?  Is it a lesson on steadfastness?

Only a week ago, I realized a better story.  Maybe, just maybe, the owl isn't the hero, the valiant and steadfast Christian.  Maybe that owl is the complacent Christian, clinging to the same branch he always has, comfortably.  The crows, in turn… might they be the troubling directives of Christ, that so often try to knock us off of our perch and our easy confidence?  Maybe...

Any time crows are not cast as straight-up villains, I like the story better.
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