Consider the Raven {Book Club}

Jesus invites us to Consider the Birds and thanks to Debbie Blue, we have.

Though I’m still no bird expert, I certainly am more bird-aware after our ten weeks of considering the pigeon, pelican, quail, vulture, eagle, ostrich, sparrow, rooster, hen, and today, the raven. Saturday I was outside and when I looked far, far above me there was a flock of some birds soaring and circling in the blue sky. I don’t think a dance choreographer could have done any better.

The chapter on the raven was one of the shortest and I wonder if, in part, it is because the theme of failure and trust is a story we are so familiar with we don’t need as many words. Eden could be summarized as “the beginning of the dance between trust and failure.”

The following stood out to me as I read this chapter:

1. That the Hebrew for “raven” involves the word “mixture” — I hadn’t known that ravens have two signs of kosher birds and two signs of nonkosher birds.

2. A raven is capable of “listening intently” to guitars for two hours?! What? I can tell you that I am not capable of listening to guitars intently for that long.

3. In scripture, ravens are called an “abomination” in one place and used to feed Elijah in another. “What is condemned one place in the text is redeemed in another.” Ah, I think the takeaway may be: Don’t have firm categories for what is good or bad (not talking sin here); instead, be willing to step into the messy story and figure out what is means HERE in THIS context.

4. This week the theme is “content.” In light of American Thanksgiving (and for those of you who aren’t American, harvest holidays in your country), we pause this week and take our contentment temperature. Am I content in relationships? in my purpose? in my calling? Am I content emotionally, spiritually, physically, and intellectually?

If so, thank God! If not, it is a chance to commune with Him and explore what He is saying to you in this season.

Blue spoke directly to the heart of contentment: “It’s one thing to believe God feeds the little pretty birds of the air. They have small appetites. They need a few seeds. Everybody loves them. It’s not that much to feed. They do not seem too needy. But what if your’e ravenous?

“Is the hope that God will feed you as long as you’re not that hungry, as long as you don’t need that much? God will feed you, sure—if you have the appetite of a little dove, as long as all you need is seeds, dry little seeds? The hope is not so proscribed.

“God feeds the ravens, the ravenous, the mixed-up greedy glutton carrion eater. That’s saying a lot more, somehow—something more shocking maybe, than that God’s willing to give bird feed to light eaters.”

She goes on to say how much we need . . . of food and attention and love and healing.

So, when we look this week at being content, another way to say it is “are you being fed?” Are you relationally, spiritually, in all the ways, being fed? And if you feel like you’re “eating” more than others, do not look to your fellow birds (be they family members, teammates, or locals), look to God. Look to God and don’t be afraid to explore with Him where your hunger may lead you.

Now we near the end of another book. In the study Caitlin, Emily, and I wrote (found here), todays’ study this passage from Leviticus was explored:

And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, 16 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

What struck me as I read it was “Wow, we’ve considered many of these birds! and they have more meaning to me now!” But look how many we didn’t even touch on. God and the Bible amaze me. May it always be so.

Looking forward to your thoughts on this book or the raven in particular in the comments.

Amy

6 Comments

  1. Johnna November 21, 2016

    Feeling very content after reading such a spectacular, though-provoking book! Her language is provocative – for me, a sign of a good writer. She got us thinking and talking, thinking some more. Amy – your posts have been insightful and encouraging as always. Very grateful for this book club. I’m sending the book to a long-time family friend and to my mother. I’m sure they won’t be the last to receive this book from me.. So, today, something I didn’t notice when reading, but saw in your post was the connection between “raven” and “ravenous.” I tried to find out if they come from the same root and there is debate online about that… but someone said ravenous probably didn’t come from raven because ravens aren’t known for their appetites as much as for their noisiness (relatives to the crow – did Blue ever mention this??!! Crows are EVERYWHERE in Japan), so that person quipped perhaps raven comes from the word ravenous… But my favorite connection I found was to the French verb, “ravir”. When you meet someone, or before you meet them,, you might say, “Je suis ravie de faire votre connaissance.” (I’m soooo glad to meet you). What if in our contentment we are hungry to meet others, to meet Jesus, to know peace and joy more and more… So appropriate for this season of Gratitude and Thanksgiving. May our nourishment in all areas be evident this week as many of us fill our bellies and give thanks for all we have. Praying for those who are ravenous for justice, truth, physical needs, love and more.

  2. Michele November 22, 2016

    I didn’t even read the book, but I have so enjoyed these posts! Crows are everywhere in Kathmandu too, and considered by many to be the messenger of death, yet worshiped during one popular festival. Pigeons are another that have potential to just take over the city. It’s a constant war… My neighbors feed them, but I try to shoo them away from my laundry. (Pigeons aren’t easily shooed, by the way). And as I type this my next door neighbor is cuddling and stroking her pet rooster. I’m not kidding. I’ve checked and it’s not a cultural thing, just her. So these posts have really helped me get a new perspective, or at least learn something good from a number of birds I see and hear every day.
    This one on the raven, though, is really hitting home. Wherever the word ravenous actually comes from, I think it sums up my heart and spirit the last few weeks. I have been spending unusual amounts of time seeking to be filled by God, and, of course, then having to fight off feelings of guilt both for not doing as much and for just being so hungry. I didn’t realize till now that I have been a bit annoyed with myself and embarrassed by my ravenous hunger, but it was perfect timing, I think, to read this today, recognize that feeling, and be able to permit myself to be hungry and to press on in seeking to be filled by God in every way. Thanks again for this ministry that He consistently uses to touch deep places in my heart!

  3. Raven November 22, 2016

    So maybe I was a little anxious to get to this chapter given that maybe I have similarity to ravens (thanks Mom)! Then, as I read I wondered if she was going to say anything positive about the raven. There is so much more to recognize about the ravens than I have previously know and I’d like to think I knew a bit about them given I share a name with them.

    I find it interesting that in the story of the ark the raven kept going back and forth between the ark, but who knows why because it doesn’t actually say. We know the dove came back because it didn’t have land to land on, but was there something floating that the raven didn’t mind to land upon? Blue speaks about mixing and the different places you might find a raven that you wouldn’t find any other bird. Instead of joining with the crowd, I see flexibility and containment within the raven. I don’t see the raven as a “high-maintainence” bird as it feeds on what it’s given and landing where there is space.

    Furthermore, within my circumstances am I asking too much or being overly needy? Or am I looking ahead with the things I have and finding a way to work with what I’ve got knowing things will come in the right time?

    1. Jilida November 22, 2016

      Like Michele, I didn’t read the book either, but I’ve been enjoying these posts. Today, while I was reading a completely separate article, I saw that the website suggested I read “10 Fascinating Facts About Ravens.”

      Since I haven’t read the book, I don’t know if the information is the same or different. But what sticks out to me from these 10 facts is the playfulness of the ravens. One of my friends stateside always said she loves how playful otters are, and the fact that He made them shows His delight in playing and doing things for the sheer fun of it. Ravens are like that too! The article has a video of this raven rolling down a snowy slope, and for all the world it looks like a toddler enjoying a day of fun in the snow. If He values that playfulness, then I also see how He values the intelligence and the communication He has placed in us. Because if He went to all the trouble to put it in a bird, how much more so was He intentional about placing it in His children?
      http://mentalfloss.com/article/53295/10-fascinating-facts-about-ravens

  4. Elizabeth November 24, 2016

    At the very beginning she remarked that in every culture birds have significant higher spiritual meaning. I found that intriguing and also true. I think it has to do with the flight.

    I didn’t expect the raven to veer in such a negative direction. I mainly associated ravens with feeding Elijah, a good association. But when she got going I could see the darkness.

    And while I did love the mixing bit — how the Bible tends to deconstruct itself or (as I like better to say) redeem things later on — the part that stuck with me the most was the raven/ravenous connection. I don’t know it they are actually linguistically linked or just a coincidence, but I identify with the ravenous nature of the raven. It’s why I identify so strongly with Queen Orual in Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces” and with Janner in Andrew Peterson’s “Wingfeather Saga.” I relate to their selfish, devouring tendencies and their bitter realizations of their true selves toward the ends of those books.

    And then I recently learned I am (most likely) a 5 on the Enneagram (any Enneagram experts out there??). The 5 is the number that is most me, through most of my life. I have been 3-ish in certain seasons but I think 5 is me through and through. And what does the 5 fear? Emptiness. They crave to be filled. In good seasons I get that fulfillment from God, in bad seasons I am simply the devourer — of people, of time, of books.

    And as an aside we recently started watching Gilmore Girls and I SO SO SO relate to Rory (like, literal exact same conversations my husband and I have had), and then I started reading some on the Enneagram and determined I was a 5 and then saw that funny blog post describing characters from GG as the different numbers of the Enneagram, and there Rory was, the FIVE.

    Anyway, all that to say, on so many levels I identify as one who is ravenous for more. And I did love the part about God caring for the raven — willing to keep trying to fill never-filled voracious little beings like us. THAT is beautiful. THAT is the God I know.

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