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feather pexels leigh heasley 816497One small insignificant white downy feather, softly floating in the breeze has little use by itself. In my hand, an individual feather seems so delicate and soft, belying its strength and power when sprouting from the small body of a bird, and laying alongside others to enable the soaring wonder and freedom of flight.

This month, the Scripture that I have explored through stitch and reflection, has been from Psalm 91.

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most Hig will rest in the shadow of the Almighty...
Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge...

As I stitched, my musings were initially about how I find safety and protection in the arms of the Lord, sheltering in Shaddai’s shadow when all around seems too much to deal with. But as I researched further into the purpose of feathers, I allowed my thoughts to fly further.This is the result of my reflections.

Birds feathers provide the ability to fly, working together to achieve aerodynamic success in all weathers. They insulate the body, providing protection from the elements, and give each bird its distinct appearance,

There is such detail and diversity even in the creation of our bird life, that graces the skies and earth.
Creation never ceases to amaze me: constant evidence of the reckless abandon and creativity of the divine Maker

There are six types of feather, each with a distinct and specific purpose.

Feathers for Flying

sunset flight pexels kunal baroth 2007660Flight Feathers are long and strong, giving a bird the ability to fly, enabling it to make use of the aerodynamics of its body shape in the wind.

So I wonder...

  • What things allow us to fly? What gives us strength amidst the gusts and gales of our lives to “soar on wings like eagles”.
  • Take time to name the elements in your life that enable you to fly
  • How can you strengthen these things?
  • What new things would help you find freedom to soar? 
  • What things might you need to leave behind that may weigh you down unnecessarily?

So often we hesitate to take off, wondering about the landing before we have even left the ground. I am reminded of this short poem by Erin Hanson

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, "What if I fall?"
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?”

“...but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31


Distinctive Feathers
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Contour Feathers give shape and colour to a bird, creating species and personality.

So, I wonder...

  • What gives our personality and spirit shape, and colour?
  • Do we revel in our identity?
  • Perhaps we draw attention to ourselves, parading our colours to all who might notice, or do we, like an owl, camouflage ourselves, blending in with our surroundings to get on with a task? Or perhaps something in between?
  • How do you perceive yourself?
  • How might others see you?
  • How does God see you?
  • Is there a particular bird that you can identify with? If so, why?

Do you ensure that you use all that God has given you to the best of your ability, faithfully singing the song you have been given on this earth?

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-15

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

“He has called us to live a holy life...Do your best to live a quiet life. Learn to do your own work well.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7-11

Insulating Feathers
Down and Semiplume Feathers are both soft and fluffy, and used for insulation against the elements, to keep warm.

So, I wonder...
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  • What insulates us from the elements, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
  • Are there particular things that help you in difficult times?
  • Do you like to battle on in your own strength for as long as possible, before asking for shelter when you can no longer go on?
  • Perhaps you have coping strategies to enable you to manage the vagaries of everyday life and the inevitable times of crisis we face intermittently throughout our lives?

Do you run to shelter in the arms of El Shaddai, the Almighty God who longs to welcome us to find refuge under his wings?

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge...” Psalm 91: 4

Sensory Feathers
Filoplume Feathers are extremely small, with a tuft of barbs at the end of the shaft. These feathers are sensory, attached to nerve endings so that they can send messages to the brain giving information about the placement of feathers for flight, insulation, and preening.

So, I wonder...

  • What tiny things alert us each to aspects of our own life that might need attention or acting upon?
  • How do you pay attention to the small things in your life that may enable you to negotiate the bigger things?
  • Do you spend time quietly each day in prayer to be attentive to the small things of God, or are there other ways that enable you to keep in tune with what might be going on in your life- mind, body and spirit? What are they?

 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities."
Luke 16:10 NLT

Protecting Feathers
Bristle Feathers are very stiff and found around the mouths of some birds where they act as a funnel. They can also be found around the eyes where they work like eyelashes. They help filter and control what enters the mouth and eyes, protecting and enabling those parts to function better.

So, I wonder...
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  • What do we each use to protect and enable our bodies, minds and hearts?
  • How do we filter and control what enters our body, in order to protect and enable it?
  • How do we filter what enters our mind...and our heart?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? ” 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

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Textile Reflections: 

hand stitched textile art, "Safe in the Father's Arms" (after Psalm 91)

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