A pair of sandhill cranes has taken to wandering my parents’ neighborhood. In fact, I’m pretty sure they believe they have taken over the neighborhood. These four-foot tall birds poke their beaks into open garages. They linger, chatting, in the middle of the street. If a human should be so impertinent as to tap a horn, they cock their heads, look the car up and down, then slooowly meander off the pavement. The huffiness is palpable. On my daily walks, I look for their red-crested heads and greet them. Sometimes I know where to look, because I can hear the distinctive echoing call. I am quite fond of them.

They always seemed funny and friendly to me until one day when I came home with a car full of groceries. There were my buddies, foraging in my parents’ front yard, next to the driveway. “Hi guys!” I sang out, lifting the first bags and heading into the house. I walked back out, and saw these masters of the neighborhood in a different light. They came toward me purposefully, not meandering at all. For the first time, instead of admiring their red and variegated gray plumage, all I could see were those beaks. Six inches long and pointed like a rapier. And they weren’t making the trumpeting call. They were sort of… growling. In fact, they sounded just like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park.

Why were they mad at me? Did they think I was after their bugs? Or did they want a share of the groceries? Was this a shakedown? All I knew was it felt risky to walk past them to the car. I retreated, and my dad, God bless him, was left to shoo away the tall feathery dagger-raptors.

I still love them. I love that they mate for life. I love that the male and female build the nest together and care for their fledglings for nine or ten months. I love that these mated-for-life pairs still perform ritual mating dances together, until death does them part, which can be as long as twenty years. They are beautiful and entertaining.

I would rather have a few risky moments than not have all that loveliness.

It’s the same with all the best things in my life. My marriage, my children, ministry- all these come with risks to the heart. Loving anything or anyone is a risk, because it always comes with a sharp edge of possible hurt, possible loss.

I would rather risk loss than not have all that love.