The haunting call of a lone loon echoes across the water, finding us here on our fishing boat.
Did you know,” Dad informs, “that a loon can only fly if it takes off from a body of water. And the loon can only land on water, not the ground.”
We watch across the lake, a smooth obsidian mirror of sky and clouds. And that one single bird, with his chessboard back, beats his wings on the water until, at last, he soars. And when the loon eventually descends for landing, his runway can only be water. He cannot land on land.
This is the way of the “common loon” — a name that comes from the Swedish word Lam, meaning “lame.” I read about it later in the bird book, sitting next to my daughters. We read that the loon is named for the “awkward way it walks on land.”
Lam = Lame. Awkward.
Everything I know and understand has taught me that I am like the common loon. Awkward, lame, and ruffle-feathered.
I am Lam. I am lame. I’m a common woman, helpless and incapable, save for the ways that a God daily has mercy on me, a sinner.
I’ve tried to accomplish many things by myself, believe me. I’ve tried to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, have tried to will myself into better behavior, have tried to impress God and people, have given in to compulsions and bad habits, have attempted to go places I did not belong only to find myself Lam — ill-equipped and lame, and unable to do anything other than drag my sorry-self back to Water.
And the Savior who satisfies thirsty beggars takes me as I am: a flawed woman, with awkward wings. He not only tolerates me, but He gives me a way to fly.
I sit on this fishing boat, on this one small patch of water, somewhere on planet Earth, and I can’t help but ponder these things. I can’t help but think of our gracious God who is not only somewhere “out there,” but also very much right here, assisting the lame and the common.
And always, He waits for our return. He waits, on Water, not as some stressed-out, air-traffic controller, crossing his arms over his chest. But there He stands, as a benevolent Father, with arms wide open. He bids me — common woman — to come home. He gives me a safe place to land, the only place ever worth coming Home to. It’s Water.
Here on this lake, the sun sinks down past pines and birch, and somewhere in the shadows, a loon cries out. Then flies.
Linking with Laura Boggess and Michelle DeRusha.