You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
The plants in the garden have, by and large, finished flowering and have set seed. The birds are taking full advantage of the abundance of food thus provided to fatten up for the winter ahead.
Whilst many birds will remain here, some have already set off for warmer climes. The swallows, for example, are on their way to Africa. In early summer they will undertake the return flight to the UK, a round trip of some 16,000 miles. (Spare a thought for the young ones born only a few months ago.) Both journeys will be beset with danger from wind and weather, exhaustion and hunger but also from predators both hawks and man since their route takes them over an area where shooting birds is allowed. Yet every year they make the passage each way.
If you look up you will soon see the Brent geese flying in V formation, returning from the harsh cold of Siberia to spend to winter on the grass lands of East Anglia – and eating the winter barley! They too will return to Siberia in early summer; a round trip of some 7000 miles.
Our life is also a journey fraught with difficulties and dangers, joy and sadness but like the birds we travel in hope; a hope of finding something better, a better and more enduring life. The birds travel by instinct but we are sustained in our journey by faith. Faith does not minimize the dangers but a firm faith in God will enable us to overcome any earthly difficulty.
Now we cannot assign human virtues to birds but remember that the geese fly in a V formation. They do this for a particular reason. The lead bird bears the brunt of the wind and weather whilst those following in his slip steam have an easier time. In fact, this formation has been scientifically proved to be the most efficient way of a group flying. In due time another bird will take over the lead to let his companion rest, which seems a good example of charity.
Let us then give thanks to God for the food the garden has provided for the birds and for the example of the spiritual virtues they inspire in us. Let us seek to emulate them.
As St Paul said: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years