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Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Eternal One, for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. For God will give you evermore the name, “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.” Rise up, Jerusalem, stand upon the height; look toward the east, and see your children gathered from west and east at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that God has remembered them. - Baruch 5: 1-5

Birds are effectively defined by feathers. Feathers are remarkable. The shaft is hollow for the sake of weight, yet exceptionally strong. The barbs that come from the shaft have what are called barbules, which have hooklets on their edges that can interlock the barbules together like Velcro. If you have ever worn a down coat, you know how effective feathers without barbules and hooklets at providing warmth. When the barbules are connected, they can form the airtight wing feathers that make flight possible. Other feathers, where some barbs have barbules and others don’t, known as contour feathers, give the bird its characteristic smooth round shape. They also give the bird its visual coloring and provide a first level of defense against physical objects, sunlight, wind and rain.Birds have glands that produce oil that they spread on their feathers during preening that creates a waterproof seal between the barbules.

In ducks, all of the best features of feathers come together in some of the most remarkable ways. Some ducks are able to dive in ice cold water while staying warm and dry. Male ducks of most species are among the best dressed birds on the planet. Greens, reds, yellows, and blues in some of the gaudiest arrangements and sharp delineations making striking patterns. It is as if the Creator decided to use every crayon in the box when coloring the ducks. Mallards even got that trick of iridescence where depending on the light their heads appear either green or purple (twisted barbules bend the light). Even with all the sartorial splendor that is a breeding plumage drake, the most remarkable thing about these feathered glories is that those feathers are all they have to protect them. Exceptionally beautiful and exceptional practical.

We seek protection in so many things that are ineffective: our structures, our institutions, our wealth, our busy-ness. Baruch makes it sound so simple, take off your mourning clothes and be clothed in the glory of God. Well, it seems to work for ducks, maybe we should try it.

Prayer: Great fashion designer, clothe us in your righteous peace that we might know protection enough to stop our worry. Amen.


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