I am reading a good book.
In the first section the author shared a story that pierced me. Days after reading this story I was still pondering, considering and evaluating (and this is part of what makes a good book—do I consider it days later).
The author was visiting a shepherdess to learn more about shepherding. She wanted to have hands-on experience so she could better relate to the shepherding metaphors in Scripture. Each day in the barn there were several geese running around aimlessly. Clearly they were hunting for something.
“What are they looking for?” I asked Lynne.
“They’re looking for their eggs,” she said.
“Where are they?” I asked.
“I threw them in the creek.” She said.
My eyes bugged in disbelief. I couldn’t help blurting out, “Why?” Lynne’s action seemed cold and cruel—a far cry from the woman who loved her sheep.
“Because they were infertile,” she said. “They will never hatch. I need to get these geese back to their regular life. For months they have been sitting on infertile eggs. The only way to get them back to the way they’re supposed to be living is to take away their dead eggs.”*
As I was pondering this, I thought of my daughter.
My third daughter.
She used to dance. Six hours a week in a second story, downtown studio. She attended a nationally known ballet intensive and took summer lessons. She breathed dance for eight years.
In the spring of 2009 she performed in her last recital. She told me she was finished; she would not be taking ballet lessons in the fall. Our family was stunned. We did not understand.
Perhaps now I do.
Ballet did not offer the kind of fruit she wanted in her life. She recognized the infertility of her dreams. She could have danced longer. She is a beautiful dancer—full of emotion and grace and loveliness.
She decided to throw her eggs in the creek.
I refrained from grabbing a basket and trying to rescue them. I wanted to save them. I wanted to hand them back to her, but I could not. For her they were infertile eggs. I did not understand how someone could work so hard and for so long and simply stop.
But God (remember the divine conjunction?) had different plans.
Plans of fertility. Plans of hope.
My daughters come from a wonderful line of musicians. Their grandfather, grandmother and uncles are musicians. And their father is a self-taught, truly gifted pianist.
We have a beautiful piano. A mahogany upright and it sits center-stage in our front room.
She began to play on the keys. Just piddling with little ditties at first. Then the ditties became recognizable melodies.
Last summer she came to me and told me she wanted to take piano lessons. I was not surprised.
Periodically through the day and night now, we listen to her. A song will interest her and she will sit at the keys and work the melody out note by note.
She is her father’s daughter.
Often at night when I am reading in bed the music will begin. And my soul breathes deeply and then holds because I do not want her music to end. It is soulful and poignant. There is an elegance in her playing, a loveliness that seems to have transferred from her days of dancing and I am so delighted.
I want that kind of courage.
I want to be able to let go of a long-held dream that seems to be going nowhere.
I want to take up a new challenge—something that stretches and expands who I am.
My daughter did this.
I am inspired by her bravery.
I am encouraged by her example.
I am challenged by her egg-tossing.
How often or how long have I sat on dead eggs?
Fruitless, infertile dreams.
One dream I have been holding in my heart for years. I have petted, pampered and protected this dream. Hoping and wishing and praying there would be fruit. I have even struggled with jealousy—often silently begrudging the success of others.
Eventually dead eggs will emit an odor, but we will ignore it as long as possible so it doesn’t seem we are sitting on an empty nest.
The shepherdess, Lynne, was not being cruel. Actually she was being very kind and showing great compassion.
God is not being cruel when he tosses our dead eggs in the creek. He is being compassionate—enabling us to move forward to embrace something that is fertile and alive.
Take these dead eggs.
Take them, please.
*Scouting the Divine