Bible/Theology, Environment

Consider the birds of the air

July 31, 2020

Despite the very real worries and grief, one of the absolute delights of lockdown for so many of us was listening to the birds singing.

I live in a city, near a dual carriageway, but have worked hard over the years to make my fairly small garden one that is welcoming to birds and other wildlife, and this spring it seemed to explode! As the weather improved, I sometimes sat outside the back door for my online meetings and it was wonderful watching a whole variety of different birds, busily collecting twigs and bits of grass for their nests. People would often comment on the birdsong they could hear when I took myself off mute and I’m not alone in this: in one meeting, every time a particular man went to speak, we could hear a cuckoo calling loudly in the background.

Birds are amazing creatures and our world is full of an incredible variety. One of my favourites is the Bassian thrush from Australia which hunts by directing its farts at piles of leaves, making the worms move around so the thrush can see where they are!

Closer to home, I’ve been reflecting on the sparrows and robins that share my garden with me (one particular robin likes to spread out his wings and lie down in a patch of leafy soil near where I sit, and sunbathe). You may well know this little ditty by Elizabeth Cheney:

Said the robin to the sparrow,
‘I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.’

Said the sparrow to the robin,
‘Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.

As you look at the birds around you, I hope you might let them remind you how much your heavenly Father cares for you and will provide for you. It is a good thing indeed to consider the birds of the air.

This blog post was originally published here by St Paul’s Cathedral.

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  • Reply Taco Smit July 31, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Hello Ruth, the robins are quiet at the moment here in Delft. I wish them recuperation after what must have been a most exhausting time. (I have read Stephen Moss’s ‘The robin’ (‘Het roodborstje’ in Dutch) and got exhausted just hearing about their toils throughout the spring). Unfortunately, we are missing the cheerful chirping of sparrows, such a common sound only a decade ago. One of the reasons for the decline, so I understand, is that our houses are being so well isolated – an envorenmental measure! You don’t see any loose roof tiles any more. So now special tiles and bird houses for sparrows are on the market! It just shows how complex it all is.

    • Reply Ruth August 3, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Hello Taco, great to hear from you in Delft! I have lots of sparrows here in my garden so I’m sorry you have lost yours. That is sad.
      But it’s good to know you care, and I hope you might get a sparrow house and see if you can attract them back into your garden!
      With every best wishes

  • Reply Vaughan July 31, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Dear Ruth,
    I have not written to you before but have been enjoying your posts for a couple of years now. I am a retired man living in the countryside about 150km west of Sydney in our Blue Mountains (which are neither blue nor mountains!!) but we are about 1000m ASL – it is glorious here and every morning brings gratitude and praise and the almost embarrassment of my privilege in the light of a suffering world.
    Retirement (from Industrial Science) has allowed me to become an amateur (in the true sense) of history and theology, of human nature and (inevitably) politics. I volunteer in our Landcare movement, both in my local stream valley and (excitingly) in the pristine upland swamps on the plateau, endangered by invasion of commercial planted pine plantations.
    I was spurred by your story of the Bassian Thrush as we have a close relative, the Alpine Thrush. My personal bird favourite is a familyof Welcome Swallows (of course I don’t know if it is the same pair or perhaps offspring) that have a permanent nest in the roof of my verandah. Every year they suddenly arrive and I watch the whole family life over their time with me – sometimes raising two clutches – and then they are gone. They bless me richly.
    Thank you once more for your always stimulating posts,

    • Reply Ruth August 3, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Dear Vaughan, thank you so much for being in touch. I had no idea my posts were reaching into the Australian Blue Mountains! That’s a real encouragement to me.
      It’s really good to hear about your interests and what you’re doing and of how the birds have been giving you so much pleasure too. It’s lovely to hear of your swallows 🙂
      All the very best, and thank you again,

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