Ostriches and jackals

(This Lenten meditation for the daily series from the Diocese of Ohio was composed before our part of the world was turned upside down by COVID-19; but God’s mercy endures forever.)

Lenten Reflection – April 3
The Rev. Rosalind Hughes
Church of the Epiphany, Euclid

The ostrich does not enjoy the reputation of a particularly spiritual creature. She is not counted like the sparrow, nor is she the object of projected piety, like the pelican. In fact, the Bible describes the ostrich as cruel, foolish, and wanton, while popular culture has made her a symbol of willful ignorance, burying her head in the sand.

The jackal, meanwhile, is rendered in an earlier authorized translation as a dragon: the foe and prey of the saints.

It is precisely these wild and unpromising creatures that God woos with oases in the desert. It is their praise that God invites as a sign of a new relationship between creature and Creator.

It is as though we have a God who answers our carelessness with cool water, our fire with soothing shade, our cruelty with kindness, our ignorance with attention, our wilderness with the profusion of life.

All the devotions this week are inspired by this passage:

Isaiah 43:18-21

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.

Image: Greater rhea head with eyes closed, by Vincent Lamy, who has placed it in the Public Domain, per wikimedia commons / CC0

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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