Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Force of Feathers and Chains

artwork by Jeanie Tomanek

"God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages."
  ~Jacques Deval
There is a force that feathers know
 that ride together upon a wing in flight
and so to do links of a rusty chain
that hold down and lock up tight.
There is a might that bricks know
when holding up a sturdy wall
and so does the metal ball and crane
that can make the building fall.
Sometimes the chains that bind us
are bound by our own hands

and in turn the liberty we so long for
becomes too heavy for us to withstand.

The soul possesses all the muscles
to carry a thousand pounds of woe

yet it also holds the skill and power
to courageously let it go.

Many years ago when I was going through the separation and divorce from my first husband, I left the home I had known for eight years and took off with a packed up car and a discouraged teenager heading to the home of a dear friend I had gone to church with years before.  We stayed under her comforting wing of hospitality and encouragement for about 6 months.  It was a difficult time of change for both me and my son.
  During that time there was a simple story her son shared one day that has always stuck with me.  It holds a profound truth in its simplicity and has crossed my mind many times when I have felt stuck in a situation.  He had a dog that he loved very much that he kept mostly in the back yard.  Whenever he would wash his car, he would bring her out in the front yard and tie her chain to a tree while he scrubbed down his ride.  Eventually, the dog got so used to the routine, that she would simply sit by the tree knowing she was chained to it, and watch him work on the car.  He admitted that as time went by he got complacent and would bring her out front on the chain, but instead of tying her up he would simply place her by the tree with the chain and go about his business.  The dog was so used to being chained to the tree, that she did not exert any force or effort to try to break away to even realize that she was no longer bound with the chain.
  I cannot tell you how many times I have thought about that story and realized how relevant it is to certain situations people face in their lives.  We get so accustomed to the obstacles that we have holding us back, that we settle like roots of a tree and stagnate where we stand.  Assuming there is no way out or means to make a change.  Then like bad fruit we become bitter and angry with the yoke we must bear, never taking the time to comprehend the fact that it is only us that can make a true difference.  Only we can make the choice to walk away, change the circumstances, or simply lay down the burden.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes


  1. mmm have heard a similar story about elephants...when they are you ng they use large tent pegs to train them so older the smallest peg can hold them in place because they dont think they can break it....

  2. Oh, the truth of this--the poem, the story. Reminds me a bit of Rousseau: "Man is free, but he is everywhere in chains." Thank you for this.

  3. Dear Carrie, I've been waiting for this (amazing write) all week. Love how you share life and wisdom.

  4. I don't think I've ever read a quote that rings as true as that Smedes quote...

    Lovely poem as always my friend.

  5. nicely done and thanks for sharing

  6. Carrie, I was MEANT to read your post tonight and I cant begin to tell you how ILLUMINATING it was for me. First, the quote about man inventing cages. God. So true. Then your GLORIOUS poem. But mostly, the story about the dog, so accustomed to being bound that he forgot to ever try to test the chain. Wow. You have nudged my soul forward in ways you cannot imagine, and reminded me that I can lay down the burden and simply walk away. I will. Thank you, kiddo. How we gift each other in this blogosphere - what a blessing!

  7. Superb! An enlightening truth in these words, how we hold ourselves prisoners without even realizing it.

  8. MAGNIFICENT, and the account about the dog and the chain made it even more so!

  9. Wonderful. A well-crafted poem and some wise words to make us all think.

  10. This was a wonderful story and it reminds me that we all have chains that shackle us but, we need to learn to break the chains of habits. Thank you for sharing.

  11. This is a most profound truth.
    We are bound by chains of our own making and, many years later, we are still tight up, although the chain has long fallen off.

  12. Very wise, and lyrical at the same time...excellent all the way!

  13. Profound stuff.

    I hope you'll believe me when I say I was JUST thinking of you the other day and wondering what had become of my friend. I was so glad for your visit but sorry to hear of the chaos: praying the peace following makes it all worthwhile. I would love to talk with you. If there's a number and good time to call, please e-mail me ( love you

  14. An honest, wise and beautiful post Carrie. It's so true, the change lays within ourselves!

  15. You poem is lovely and the story that you narrated is so true. We all do not make an attempt to break free but remain 'chained'. nice knowing you at 'As The CrackerheadCrumbles'.


"Our best thoughts come from others." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson