We have had the most wonderful visitors this past week at the New Life land: a nesting pair of roadrunners has been worshiping with us.
Psalm 66:4 All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.’
Al and Jenni, who constantly tend to this piece of God’s creation in the Texas Hill Country, our outdoor church of New Life, first saw the pair on the labyrinth on a morning midweek. They said they looked all the world as if they were walking it: when one wanted to leave as humans approached, they seemed to stop and look at the stone-lined path, and to try to figure out how to get back out.
On Thursday, I came out to do some work on our outdoor Godly Play classroom, under one of our beautiful century oaks. There on the focal shelf sat the roadrunner. He or she moved to the storytelling stone seat, and was reluctant to cede the territory to me. I tried and failed to get a good phone photo. They eventually moved around the tree and ran toward the labyrinth.
On Sunday morning, as I was at our horse-trough altar preparing for worship, I was going over the readings with Mary, our reader. There was a scuffling under our third big oak tree, which has brushy growth underneath. We looked, and I expected to see a possum or armadillo, but finally out walked a roadrunner, tail flicking a bit, and then disappearing into the brush. We chuckled.
After a beautiful worship under the biggest oak, we had fellowship and the typically delicious treats at the picnic table, and then we had a worship planning meeting at another table. Everyone else packed up worship things, music things, food things, and headed on to the rest of their Sunday. About 8 of us remained. Those facing the altar noticed a roadrunner coming into the learning, closer and closer to us. I remarked that I think she wanted us to leave, already, and speculated that she had a nest. She stayed around, walking nearer, then fluttering up the top of the arbor, making herself very visible. Finally, she hopped up on the lectern and watched us.
Revelation 5:13-14 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,
‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might
for ever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.
I read later that roadrunners mate from March to October, with as many as three clutches. They probably mate for life, and the male and female work together on the nest, and caring for eggs and babies. They are more solitary during winter, and have large ranges. Their nests are off the ground, in trees, shrubs or cactus stands.
I haven’t seen the nest yet, and I don’t know if our preaching roadrunner was the mom or dad. I hope we get to see the babies - we love children in worship at New Life. This lovely visit, this lovely living together on the land, is one of the things I love most about pastoring an outdoor church.
And all the people said, Amen! and may we too fall down and worship the Creator of this amazing world.
Thanks to Kym & Jim for the preaching photo.