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A Wren in the Hand is Worth Two… October 3, 2012

Posted by markgeil in Music.
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Two extraordinary songs, one simple bird:

“And the wrens have returned and they’re nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again”

The Color Green, Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band


“This is the year when laughter douses charred and burnt-out dreams
This is the year when wrens return to nest in storm-blown trees
Is this the year of relocation from boughs of old despair?
This is the year to perch on hope’s repair”

The New Year, Eric Peters, Birds of Relocation


The former is the first song of the Liturgy section of what many consider Mullins’ finest album. Mullins lists 2 Chronicles 6:18 as scripture to accompany the song: “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

The latter is the decisive arrival of hope and light in Peters’ brilliant account of despair and recovery. It praises a God who makes all things new, even things that seem beyond repair.

I assumed that Mullins’ wrens inspired Peters’, so I asked him. As it turns out, Peters did not (consciously, at least) recall The Color Green while writing The New Year. He had his own reasons for his wrens:

“It’s one syllable.” That was his first answer. He has a point. “This is the year when cardinals return to nest in storm-blown trees” doesn’t work at all.

But then he thought for a moment and added this:

“Also, I really like their song.”

The song of the wren is chirpy, staccato happiness. It makes the heart a little lighter. I’m glad it’s sung by a monosyllabic bird.

I read once that there are times when birds sing just because they want to. They have mating calls and warning calls and such, but there are also times when, apparently, birds sing for no apparent reason. Biologists might not understand why, but I do. If the rocks can cry out in praise, then surely the wren can sing a happy song for the Maker of Song.

I pray that I will never fail to marvel at the swaying arms of the oak, or the palette of colors with which God painted the sky and the fields, or the happy, hopeful song of the wren.

And when I need it, it’s good to know that the wrens have returned, and they’re nesting.


Some Rich Wisdom September 14, 2011

Posted by markgeil in The words of others far more wise than I.
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I’m having a Rich Mullins day, and this morning I had occasion not only to listen to his music but also to read some of his words. I like what he said during a chapel service at Wheaton back in 1997, as transcribed over at the treasure trove of all that is Rich, http://www.kidbrothers.net/. Rich was explaining a passage from the gospel of Mark:

And in case you’re not familiar entirely with the story, it goes that Jesus was blessing little kids. You know, I’m trying to think through this thing and I’m going, well how do you bless children? Cause I find them barely tolerable, let alone something you’d want to bless. So I’m thinking I’ve got all these nieces and nephews and stuff, how have I blessed them, and the only thing I could think of is, you know you pick them up and you throw them as high in the air as you can and you catch them right before they splat. Or, you get down on all fours and you know, they ride you and you try to buck them off, and that kind of thing.

So I’m trying to picture Jesus doing this and then the disciples they come up and they see Jesus who-you know they’re good monotheists so they’re really I’m sure struggling with His claims to be equal to God. And they see Him you know, and they’re kinda going, well you know when you put on that really straight academic face of yours and charge us with a lot of information, we can kinda buy it then, but here you’re acting like an idiot. And it’s hard enough to believe that smart people could be the Son of God, let alone this-this-bumbling idiot, that’s rolling around in the dirt with the children. And Jesus says, ‘hey guys, knock it off. If you want to come into My kingdom, you have to come in like one of these. You have to come in like a child. You have to let me throw you up in the air and catch you right before you splat. You have to ride on my back and let me buck you off. We have to wrestle a little, we have to play a little.’