After waiting seven more days, he again released the dove from the ark. In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its beak was a freshly picked olive branch.
Genesis 8.10-11 (NJB)
The tweet I was suppressing said:
mourning dove on neighbour’s chimney pot. #utterlylovely
But I was supposed to be saying morning prayer, not staring out the window, and certainly not tweeting, so back I went. Old Testament. Genesis. And there he was again…
I’d never stopped to think about the grace of that moment between Noah and the dove. Yes, of course: the relief of dry land appearing must have been overwhelming. But what about the joy of the dove’s return. The remarkable wonder that a creature wild and free should return to us?
One day, when I look back on this jubillee year, I suspect I will think of it as the year of birds. Starlings and morning doves, goldfinch and robins, magpies, herons, cormerants and gulls. And Kingfishers, too. Swift offers of promise that gleam like the rainbow.
‘But what are you doing with your year?’ friends and strangers both ask. Well, in large part, this: looking. watching. experiencing the grace of it. letting it fill the wells deep, and listening closely as I try to discern where the water will flow.
The birdwatching brings its own connections. It is, perhaps, the only part of my life that is fully shared with the man who sleeps rough by the river banks, and spends his days watching the gulls. When the light catches on their feathers and they suddenly rise up, our differences are held in common laughter.
The apophatic Kingfishers forge many a connection, too. ‘Have you seen them? Are they here today?’ Once, I was talking with an old man, and my question stirred an ancient memory of scrabbling to the river banks to where the Kingfishers nested when he was boy. He was lost to me for a moment, and then said ‘Are they still here? I didn’t realise…’
Yes, they are still here. Waiting for us.