Last week I was re-reading Love Letters to God by my dear friend Lynn D. Morrissey. In a chapter called “Bye-Bye BlackBird,” she writes about a really creative way God gave her to visualize and release her worries and fears to Him. I asked her if I could share it here with you!
It was like a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds . . . . Perched in profusion in the tangled net of oak branches webbing a wintry sky were crows, more crows, myriad crows—brash, brazen, boisterous—cawing raucously like doomsday prophets, disrupting my peace. I had never seen or heard anything like this bird-blitz—except in the movie, and I presumed that sound to be faked. Yet these birds were real, seeming suddenly to blanket our oaks. The trees were black with them.
How had they come? Suddenly? No . . . While I was writing my prayers, I had occasionally looked out the window into the backyard and noticed a crow or two peppering the branches; then from time to time, I saw several more alight. One by one, bird by bird, they had come. Absorbed in my writing, I had forgotten about them until their numbers and noise could not be ignored. They were more than a distraction—they were a disquieting presence that had ruined my serenity and sojourn with God.
As ridiculous as it may seem, I opened the window, and shouted at them to leave, to no avail. The pesky crows maintained their post. Then Pete, our gallant neighbor, charged out his back door and, armed with a BB gun, shot decisively overhead. Pop. Pop. Pop. In a blink they were gone, a thunder of wings beating the air.
For some odd reason, maybe because of the crows’ ebony color, I recalled the song Grandma Nina used to sing when I was small: “Pack up all my care and woe, here I go, singing low, ‘Bye Bye Blackbird.’” The crows were now blackbirds symbolizing cares, woes, and worries—worries that had multiplied in my life, one by one, bird by bird.
Worries—what a pain—how I hated them. I was the world’s worst worry-wart. My active imagination could magnify showers into tempests, molehills into mountain ranges, sniffles into terminal illnesses. Yet I knew this was wrong. Jesus tells us repeatedly not to worry. Paul insists that we should be anxious for nothing. I knew I was making myself sick—sick of mind.
As the sun set and darkness engulfed me, a deeper darkness descended—a winter of worries—of blackbirds burgeoning in my mind. I began sketching a stick-figure tree with numerous lines jutting helter-skelter like my thoughts. One by one, bird by bird, I listed my cares on the crisscrossed branches. The birds—some large, some small—that had been caged in my mind and caroming crazily around, now flew freely and landed as fast as I could write…
When I’d finally finished having my own bird-blitz—after I’d allowed those carping crows to have their say in writing—the once-pristine journal page was black, but my mind was clear. I drew a deep breath, felt amazing relief, and made a connection. When I had lifted my pen, I was like Pete shooting his BB gun. When I took aim in my journal, I was saying, “Bye-Bye, blackbirds!” and the worries began to flee. With them out of my head and onto the page, they had lost their power.
Seeing my concerns in black and white—both real and imagined—allowed me detachment and objectivity. I understood Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s wisdom in one of her poems: “Watching the patterns of these birds in flight,/ Fluid as music on a page and white/ As falling petals, I find swift escape./ Then all at once my life takes sudden shape.”
In my journal, I began studying the patterns of my birds, lifting them with my pen from the branches of my “worry tree,” caging them into orderly lists: These birds could be delegated; these could be forgotten; these could be confessed; these could be acted upon; these could be lifted up to God for His intervention; these could be entrusted to His care; these could be considered as masked opportunities if I’d dare to take a risk!
The act of writing had brought clarity: “All at once my life [took] sudden shape.” Immediately, I wrote to God, confessing, petitioning, praising, and tying everything up with the golden thread of thanksgiving, just as Paul admonishes in Philippians 4:6. And as Paul knew I would, I experienced peace that transcends understanding.
Martin Luther noted, “We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from nesting in our hair.”
One way to keep the birds of burden from landing and roosting in our hair, in our minds, is to steer them off-course one by one as they attack, and pen them into our journals through prayer.
Lynn has graciously provided some special journal prompts based on this post that you can download for free by clicking here!
Lynn D. Morrissey is passionate about journaling, through which God healed her of suicidal depression, alcoholism, and guilt from an abortion. A poetic word-stylist, Lynn sculpts beautiful language with her pen, and is the author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and other books, contributor to numerous bestsellers, a Certified Journal Facilitator (CJF) for her ministry, Heartsight Journaling, AWSA speaker, and professional soloist. She lives with her husband Michael and college-age daughter Sheridan in St. Louis, Missouri. Contact Lynn by email at words@ brick.net or on Facebook.