In a gigantic swarm, they flew overhead, darkening the afternoon sky. Their dark, winged bodies swirled purposefully in eddies of the wind, shifting in an instant as one diving, banking, rising singular entity. I observed as they quickly lapped up great distances as a cheetah on the plains, until they had become obscured in the vast expanse of sky that lay behind them. In my observation, I wondered. This murder--for they were likely crows or some such--moved eerily together, though their numbers must have been hundreds. Unlike the geese who fly great distances in a v-shaped formation, there did not appear to be a leader to this horde.
Perhaps they shifted in reaction to the wind currents, the updrafts from the warming land, or as they spotted predators in the distance. One moment a bird stretched out inches ahead of the others, when suddenly he was now off to the side as the course shifted and he was simply one of the many, until the group shifted again and other birds bore the leading edge’s resistance. In the natural world God created, we so often see glimpses of ourselves. Instinct appears to drive the wild heart of mankind like the jackal or hyena as often as reason. Reaction seems to guide our decisions at least as often as contemplation and thought. Fear rattles us to our core no less than the animals over whom God gave us dominion. Creation is a text book we read over and over in an ongoing effort to understand ourselves and our place in the greater whole. Let me share with you a few observations from an admittedly strange mind.
A line from Men in Black popped headlong from my memory. “A person is smart. People are dumb.” As a crowd, a horde, a mob or a revolution has shown repeatedly, people don’t make good decisions when in large groups. “Group-think” seldomly makes for great wisdom of thought or action. Also, when there is no apparent leader, the group struggles to know which way to move or what the objective is. First we follow one, then the other, then yet another. Without clear direction, the group expends a great deal of energy “flying willy-nilly.” This is an all-too-common malady in the 21st century church. Closely related, there is also the tendency to “fly” to the next thing. There is little commitment, but lots of commercialism--desiring that which gives me the “best bang for my buck” or the easiest, least-demanding path to “happiness.” I am fascinated by the suddenly changing movements of the murder, but I ache at the suddenly changing movements of the people for whom God has given Himself. Directionless, the group expends energies aplenty, while accomplishing little of lasting value. In this cycle, we are always looking for the “next big thing,” or the “biggest,” or the “slickest,” or the most “sensational.” I wish this were only a recent observation, but sellers of “snake oil” have been around a long time, and their “progress” is short-lived, albeit dangerous to those who blindly follow. Lest I forget...what’s with calling a group of crows a “murder,” anyway. Then again, when you see one perched outside your window, it does feel just a little creepy, doesn’t it?