Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
Over the last few days and weeks the number of birds in the garden seems to have declined. No doubt the parents are exhausted after all that egg laying,fledging, and feeding their youngsters. I am sure some of you can relate to them having raised your own family.
Many birds are resident to this country but some will soon set of for warmer climes. The swallows, for example will soon be gathering on the telegraph wires before making their arduous journey to the southern tip of Africa where they will spent the winter months. Spare a thought for the young ones born just a few months ago as they make their 8,000 mile trip. The journey will be beset with danger and difficulty; from the wind and weather, but also from predators like hawks and man. There journey takes them across an area where shooting birds is legal. Yet every year they fly in hope of a safe passage to Africa and a safe return to the UK in spring. Very soon the Brent geese will return to feed on the grasslands of East Anglia to avoid the harsh Arctic winter. You will notice that they fly in a V formation. That way the lead bird bears the brunt of the wind and weather whilst those following in his slipstream have an easier time. Apparently it has been proved that this is the most efficient way of group flying. In due time another bird will take the lead allowing his companion to take a rest, which seems a good example of charity.
Why do these birds take such enormous risks? Maybe it is instinctive, yet they follow their leader faithfully. Our life on this earth is also a journey fraught with dangers and difficulties, joy and sadness, but like the birds we travel in hope; a hope of finding something better, perhaps a better, 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, Our Creator, will enable us to overcome all earthly difficulties.
Now, whilst we should not assign human values to our feathered friends, nevertheless they do seem to exemplify the three spiritual virtues of which St Paul spoke in his letter to the Corinthians,(1 Corinthians 13:13) Faith, Hope and Charity.
We all need a little encouragement from time to time. A kind word or gesture, even if unexpected, makes a huge differencewhen thegoing gets tough.
I know many of you have recently had difficulties reading one of my blogs and for that I apologize. I contacted the Technical Support Desk at my website for help. Once the problem had been explained it was dealt with courteously and efficiently using language that even an Ancient Briton like me could understand. However, not only did the adviser tell me how to avoid the problem in future she went back, reformatted and re published my blog God has a Plan! It is now accessible for you all to read which I hope you will do. I really appreciated her extra effort in going the extra mile so,of course, I thanked her sincerely
Jesus had something to say about going the extra mile (Matt 5:41) and that is exactly what God is calling us to do. No doubt you remember he parable of the good Samaritan(Luke 10:25-37). He could have simply bound up the victim's wounds and left him there. After all he had a long journey ahead of him and anyway someone else would be along shortly to help the injured man on his way..Yet despite him being a Samaritan and the victim a Jew nevertheless he bound his wounds, put him on his own beast of burden to an inn., paid for a night's lodging and before leaving asked the innkeeper to let him know if anything further was owed next time he passed that way To my mind the Samaritan went that extra mile.
You see, God does not want part time Christians doing the absolute minimum for others or Christians who pay lip service to the whole idea. God asks our whole undivided service. In fact, the words of St Ignatius of Loyola whose Feast Day is 31 July sum up what is required of us: 'Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have and call my own. .'
Are you prepared to hand over 'all that I have and call my own' to God in the service of others? Will you go that extra mile for your neighbour?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years