“…He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Eccl. 3:11)
Murmuration. Even if you’re not familiar with this word, you’ve most likely seen it in action – a large group of birds traveling together, soaring and swooping, pulsing and pivoting, like a graceful ballet or ocean waves rolling in the sky. This fall-winter wonder is said to occur for several reasons – protection, communication, warmth – but the deeper explanation behind the starlings’ choreographed flocking (thousands, sometimes millions, at a time) remains a mystery to the world of science.
Solomon, the wisest of all men, wrote about life’s mysteries in the book of Ecclesiastes. His glory was renowned, his kingdom’s beauty unsurpassed, yet he spoke of emptiness (“all is vanity”). Though the tone of this book is sad, upon considering God’s balance of good and bad, Solomon ultimately declared everything beautiful, even the things we don’t understand: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Eccl. 3:11) God’s thoughts are higher than ours, by far, so it’s no wonder we can’t figure Him out. Man does, however, have a built-in desire for the things of heaven. God placed it there Himself when we were created in His image. As Augustine put it, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.” Solomon’s heart was restless because he put peace with his many foreign wives above peace with God, inviting their multitude of false gods in to be worshipped. Not a smart move for such a wise man. That’s why who we flock with matters.
Personally, I’m obsessed with the phenomenon of murmuration. While driving, I’ve been known to screech and swerve as a dark field suddenly lights up with hundreds of birds dancing away. On occasion, massive flocks have also come to roost in the trees behind my house. I can hear them coming before I ever see them. Once I was caught in the middle of a murmuration in my own backyard! The sheer volume of chirping and flapping wings all around me, coupled with the sun turning to shadow above, was completely overwhelming. (A smaller wonder is that none of those birds dropped a “gift” on me!)
The more I see of God, the more I want of Him and the more I learn, the more I yearn. Solomon spoke of “eternity in their hearts.” What does that look like, here, in this finite world? Some deepest desires of the heart are: love, belonging, health, wealth, peace, perfection, forgiveness, fulfillment… Are these things not eternal in Christ? This means that, as part of His flock, they belong to us now and forever! But the predator’s crafty efforts to kill, steal and destroy compel us to work together. Flying alone makes an easy target as well as a weary wanderer. We can take a lesson from the starlings on how to survive such attacks. They start off in small groups of seven (no mystery to God), gathering numbers as they go. Communication is vital to their fluid escape movements. Somehow, even though these birds are only connected to their own small formation, the entire flock moves as one. We can provide an equally superb safeguard for ourselves and each other when we stick together, communicate and defend one another in prayer and in the Word.
Solomon was sullen, science is stumped but I choose to soar on wings of wonder towards eternity, guided by my Creator, mystified til glorified with Christ. Please, join in this flight. The view is spectacular!