Recently, David was invited to make a film about a choir for people with learning disabilities and a mental health issue or long term medical condition. It was given a public viewing last Monday.
The choir is called ‘Positive Notes’ and is sponsored by the Dundee Learning Service. It has been singing for the past three years and judging by the comments of the choir members has made a big impact on their lives not least in building confidence.
On the film, one woman confirmed this view. ‘What I like about performing on stage is that it has given me confidence to stand up in church and do a reading by myself.’ she said, ‘And this has meant a lot to me!’ And to everyone in the church, I am quite sure!
When we were getting work done to our house, there was a skip in the driveway to collect all the debris and waste materials. Our elder son, David, spotted some wood which had been thrown out.
He retrieved it and with great imagination used it to make a press for screen printing as well as a squeegy for clearing the ink from the surface of the press. This was made with recycled wood and a redundant piece of rubber.
Recently his wife used it to produce eight prints of her design, ‘It’s Always Sunny In Dundee’. The print was cut using a scalpel knife on thin A4 paper. After eight prints, the paper began to disintegrate.
The image is full of fun and the message is optimistic. It is an encouraging self-image for any city, greatly enhanced by art which makes something new out of something old, celebrates the value of the moment in a life-affirming way and invites us to view the world from a sunnier, friendlier perspective!
The child psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips, has a different approach to parenting. When he was asked, ‘Can you give a child too much attention and what’s the danger in that?’ He agreed that you could and being over-protective creates fear within the child.
He went on to say, ‘As a parent, you have to let your child teach you what kind of a parent they need you to be.’ We are surprised because our natural instinct is to be more directive and even authoritative about parenting.
Afterall, a child needs to know what is dangerous and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, where to play safely and what to do for the best. Or so it seems until the child’s character begins to emerge and you realise that some ways of parenting are not as effective as you first thought!
With grown-up children, I see the wisdom in Phillips’ approach for this is inevitably how parenting develops. You cannot be as directive with a teenager or an adult as you were with a child. And maybe, the lessons learnt as parents gain more experience would have made us fitter to parent our children in infancy?
What I like about Phillips’ comment is the fact that children do need parents! We should value that insight. But they also need parents who listen to them and relate to them as individuals.
It is a real blessing when children want to share their inner thoughts with us. We should tread softly, as WB Yeats said so beautifully in one of his poems, because we tread on their dreams!
The Scottish composer, James McMillan, was interviewed for the Herald recently as he approached his sixtieth birthday. It is a landmark which apparently merits a national celebration of his work.
In the interview, he was asked about the widely reported speech which he made some twenty years ago at the Edinburgh International Festival entitled, ‘Scotland’s Shame -Anti-Catholicism as a Barrier to Genuine Pluralism’.
Reflecting on his speech, he said, ‘I think I genuinely felt that anti-Catholic feeling was not good for the entire society in the same way that Islamophobic attitudes aren’t good for the bigger society today.’
When he was challenged about attitudes to Calvinism in liberal Scotland, he conceded that modern Scotland is embarrassed by its Christian heritage both pre and post Reformation.
Surprisingly, he went on to say, ‘…. I recognise a great strength in the Protestant Church in Scotland and what it has given to the Scottish character….. Maybe the treatment and disdain for the life of John Knox is as unfair and self-debilitating as our negativity towards pre-Reformation Scotland.’
The composer has grown older and the Catholic Church in Scotland and internationally has had deep-seated problems to face over the last twenty years but I warmed to his more accurate assessment of religious life in Scotland.
The contribution which the Protestant Church has made to Scottish life and character and the need to value our different but ultimately common traditions is crucial in shaping our attitudes to people of other faiths and none so that all may ‘sit under their fig trees and no one shall make them afraid’.
Recently Mairi Leach has been playing the organ and piano for the Sunday morning services at Stenton. She has a remarkable imagination and works very hard to create moving and imaginative voluntaries especially at the offering.
She loves the Scottish fiddle and is able to weave Scottish Psalm tunes into old Scottish music composed by the likes of Niel Gow and Scott Skinner and create a tapestry of engaging music at a point in the service where we are ready to listen and reflect.
Just before I went on holiday, she decided to play Niel Gow’s
‘Lament on the Death of His Second Wife’ and followed it with one of her own
compositions – a song celebrating the
creative genius of Gow entitled, ‘The
The words were written
by her husband, Robin and Mairi accompanied herself in the singing of its three
verses. It was beautifully enfolded into the theme of the day – the important
place which older people have in nurturing younger people as they bring to
birth something new.
in his childhood Samuel is celebrated in the Old Testament. Towards the end of
his life, he says, ‘See, it is the king
who leads you now; I am old and grey, but my sons are with you. I have led you
from my youth until this day.’ says
Samuel, no longer a boy but an old, old man.
greatest contribution to the development of Israel was as a king-maker. On two
occasions, he anoints God’s chosen people with a horn full of oil. But
initially, he wasn’t keen on this major change.
didn’t want Israel to have a king because he thought that God was their King
and any attempt to create an earthly monarch was an attempt to usurp the place
of God in the hearts of the people.
he comes round to the idea. Saul is anointed. And when he proves unworthy of
the office, Samuel is directed to the sons of Jesse. Seven are presented but it
is the eighth who was ignored by his
father, the youngest of them all, who is chosen.
‘The Lord does not see as mortals see;
they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ is how Samuel understands the actions of
God. And it’s with this insight that we must discern the vocations of other
damage is being done to our kirk by its failure to acknowledge the worth of
younger people and to see that new ways of being the church are as necessary
today as they were when Samuel was dedicated to the Lord with a brand new robe
handmade by Hannah, his devoted mother, who let him go to do the work of God!
the Radical Action Plan approved by the General Assembly this year, it has been
agreed to completely restructure the Kirk Session. Apparently one in six of our
active members are elders. This cannot continue.
of increased longevity, a lot of our elders come from the post-war builders’
generation. They have a particular generational characteristic. ‘They have a marked commitment to stick with the task they have been given.’ They
don’t give up!
people think that they can still do the job. Others think that they are
indispensable. Others fear that no-one else would want it. But all of these
positions fail to recognise that God is the one who calls. And he calls younger
And they have different generational characteristics which are just as valuable. And they have different ways of working which are just as effective. The church must change to enable their ministries to flourish.
The Radical Action Plan wants to reduce the size of the Kirk Session and to encourage a wider sharing of ministry across the congregation. It wants to enable shorter terms of active service with the possibility of appointments spanning three to five years instead of thirty, forty or even fifty!
think some older people are a bit like King James VI. In 1601, he attended the
General Assembly at Burntisland and was influential in suggesting a new translation of the Bible
and the metrical psalms.
Things moved slowly on the latter front and so he decided to make a metrical version himself. Rather than recognising the rare ability of more able men, he claimed the field for himself.
of those more able men was the Scottish poet,
Alexander Hume, my predecessor at Logie. His poem, ‘Day ‘Estival’, is
still anthologised. It was his friend, Sir William Alexander of Menstrie, who
tried to salvage the king’s poor efforts.
few made their own translations secretly. One sent a copy of a Psalm to Sir
William Alexander. ‘Brother, I received
your last letter, with the Psalm you sent, which I think very well done.’
wrote Alexander in a reply quoted by Millar Patrick.
‘I had done the same long before it came;
but the King prefers his own to all else; tho’ perchance when you see it, you
will think it the worst of the three. No man must meddle with that Subject and
therefore I advise you to take no more Pains therein.’
the Old Testament tale about the boy Samuel and the old priest Eli, it is said that Samuel’s vocation came to him
before he knew the Lord. This is not as surprising as it might first appear.
is anecdotal evidence to support the view that vocations to the ministry emerge
when people are young and before they have the intellectual equipment to
understand it. The call is fragile and prone to damage.
‘Samuel, Samuel!’ It was such a
quiet, inconsequential beginning. And Samuel mistook the voice for the voice of
another. But Eli was a wise man. He recognised the voice as the voice of God and
brought the boy’s vocation to birth.
is the ministry of older people to nurture growth and opportunity and
discernment in young people. ‘Which one is going to be the minister.’ said the
older women to my mother who was holding my younger brother and me in her
wasn’t uncommon in West Highland villages to hear people talk like this. If
there were boys in the family, one of them would surely become a minister. I
heard the comment but didn’t understand what it meant. Now, of course, I do!
forty years, I have never wavered from the importance of inter-generational
work. In every charge and in every thought, I have made it my goal to provide opportunities in worship
and congregational life for all ages.
of the first projects we did at Forth way
back in the eighties was environmental. A member of the congregation had
spotted an advertisement for an ‘Environmental Award Scheme’ run by Clydesdale
idea was to do something to improve the
local environment. We put in £50 to the project and the council put in £450! We
decided to renovate the church grounds which sat in a very prominent position
on the Main Street.
the organisations who used our kirk hall participated. The Sunday School took
the bird table garden, the Guides planted the heather garden, others took the
rose garden, the butterfly garden, the wildflower garden and so it was done.
ages working together to enhance our local environment was rewarded with first
prize in the competition. The project was later highly commended in a national
initiative organised by the ‘Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland’.
gardens are still attractive and the spin-offs within the community have been
surprising with community poly-tunnels and other initiatives at the school. It
lives on over thirty-five years later!
One of the most memorable experiences which I had as a child was engaging in a BBC Radio Broadcast called ‘Singing Together’ at Primary School. This was complemented by the work of our itinerant music teacher who continued to teach these songs when he visited.
It built up an amazing repertoire within the mind and heart.
As well as national songs from all four corners of the United Kingdom, there
were songs from different parts of the world, operatic arias, German lieder, sacred
solos, fun songs and all sorts.
A generation later, singing did not constitute the core activity of school music teaching. With the advent of electronic keyboards, it moved to instruments and composition etc. Not that these activities were unhelpful but they were not communal but solitary activities.
This came home to me when I read that a recent project
monitored the effect of corporate singing over a term in twenty-four schools. Interestingly,
there was a marked improvement on learning and self-esteem.
Reporting in the Church Times, Rebecca Paveley wrote, ‘...teachers recorded a ten per cent increase
in listening and reading skills and an 11 per cent increase in the pupils’
performance in maths as well as an increase in the children’s self-confidence’.
The researcher identified two important reasons for this.
Firstly, singing together helps to bring about social cohesion. We see that in
the church as much as the football stadium. Secondly, singing together has a
positive effect on our well-being.
No wonder it has been such an integral part of worship in the Reformed tradition where the people’s part was almost exclusively confined to communal singing. And, of course, we value listening above all else for the Word of God is ‘our supreme rule of faith and life’.
of using our tongue to hurt other people, we can use our tongue to build them
up. There are four important words which we can keep by our side to encourage
first is thank-you! When someone
does something for you, it is always good to acknowledge their gift with a word
of thanks. Gratitude lies at the heart of the Gospel, our gratitude to God for
what he has done for us in Jesus.
second is sorry! This is one we
often forget to say. When we are unkind to another in word or deed, we need to
be ready to say, ‘I am sorry!’ It is the only way to heal and mend and bring
third is remember! Remember all the good things that you
have done and that we have done together. They will build us up and make us
feel good to be alive.
The fourth is love. ‘I love you!’, ‘Love you!’, ‘Love David’, ‘I will love you always!’ are
words which make everyone feel good about themselves. It’s love which makes the
world go round. No wonder because God is love.
St. Paul says, ‘Think
about these things!’ What things? ‘Whatever
is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever
is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there
is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’
always have a choice. We can look for the good or we can look for the bad. We
can fill our minds with dishonesty, impurity, suspicion, hatred and greed and
we can view the world and everyone in it through these distorted lenses.
can also look for beauty, goodness and grace, generosity, integrity and joy. If
we fill our minds with these things, we will discover a rare peace, ‘the peace of God which passes all
never be content if we are always striving to create the conditions which we
would be happy to face. For Jesus says, ‘God
makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends the rain on the just
and the unjust!’
is no respecter of persons. We do not live in an ideal world. We can never
create our own Utopia. The conditions for our own happiness can never be
are going to learn the secret of contentment, we must first limit our
expectations. ‘In life,’ we must learn to say, ‘we will have to face all
conditions and not just those we would like to face!’
his life, St. Francis encouraged his fellow brothers to cultivate what he
called ‘spiritual gladness’. He often
gave them a row for looking sad or exposing their grief or drawing attention to
their troubles by the look on their faces.
desperately wanted them to cultivate a joyful spirit which would be a
protection against those who would seek to harm them. Instead, he argued that
they would say:
‘Since this servant of God has joy in
tribulation as well as in prosperity, we can find no way of entering into him
nor of hurting him.’
And that’s perfectly true. Someone who is joyful not only in prosperity but also in tribulation has certainly discovered a secret worth possessing for it doesn’t make sense to be joyful when things are going wrong!
And yet, isn’t this what St. Paul wrote to the Philippians? His equilibrium was unaffected by having too much or too little because he had learnt the secret, ‘to be content with whatever I have’.
round the Smeaton estate, you will see a lot of animals in the fields. The other
day, I saw a fieldful of shorn sheep, another of highland cattle and passing me
on the open grass was a gaggle of seventeen geese.
surprising of all was the sight of cow inside the Smeaton van! I have heard of
a bull in a china shop but a bull in a worker’s van was certainly different. It
was a photograph of one of their Highland cattle looking out of a van full of
plants and foliage!
very cleverly done and arrested my attention immediately. For a second or two,
I thought it was real. It made me ask a question or two and made me think about
the Smeaton Nursery and Tea Room when I was otherwise engaged.
It was a
very effective advertisement – distinctive and engaging. We need more of that
in the kirk. Maybe not a bull in a tea shop but a baby in a cowshed! Something
to arrest attention and engage the viewer instead of letting them pass by on
the other side?
at the crematorium, I was astonished to see a dozen red admirals feeding on the
blossom of a viburnum hedge. Their vibrant colour was a welcome introduction to
the proclamation of the gospel of new life which was about to follow.
in the entrance of the crematorium waiting for the mourners to arrive, I
noticed a framed certificate celebrating an astonishing £30,000 or so which had
been raised by the crematorium for the work the children’s hospice!
the certificate, there was a misleading collecting can for the hospice. ‘Did you raise this sum from collecting
boxes?’ I asked in amazement. ‘No,’
said the steward. ‘The money comes from
the metal which cannot be burned in the cremators.
Of course, families give permission for metal joints and accessories to be retained for recycling purposes. It is sent to a Dutch company which recycles the metal into useful road signs which help us all to find our way and drive safely.
money raised by this process is returned to the crematorium and given to
charity! It’s another celebration of the Easter gospel! When I said to
Mary-Catherine that the metal band which helped to heal her broken wrist could become a continental road sign, she was
she did go a little further and made an interesting request. ‘Can I ask that it goes into a ‘Take your
litter home!’ sign because I dislike those who throw their litter out of car
windows!’ I am sure it can be arranged!
My elder son, David, encouraged me to
participate in the ‘Fun a Day Dundee’ project this year. I enjoyed it immensely,
creating a visual blog from my work in January! Recently, he gave us the
celebratory catalogue of the event.
One of the projects involved the
creation of a set of chess pieces. When I was at the exhibition, I was struck
by them and took this photograph. They were made by Maureen King using left
In her description she reassured us. ‘Just to be clear,’ she wrote, ‘I didn’t drink all the bottles they came
from … I’m more a red wine kind of gal.’ With a brilliant piece of lateral
thinking, she recycled the old corks in a very creative way.
The pieces are beautiful in all their
detail and would enhance any game of chess. But what struck me more than
anything else was the reason given for choosing such an imaginative endeavour.
decided on the chess set as my Dad was a HUGE fan of the game .. and he’s
always in my thoughts this time of year.’ Although she didn’t say, it is
implied that her dad is no longer around to play chess and she has taken her
grief and turned it into something beautiful!
Far from remembering all his personal achievements and experiences, St. Paul deliberately forgets them and instead he remembers the thorn in his flesh. ‘I am most happy to be proud of my weaknesses,’ he says, ‘in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me!’
not in the successes but the failures. It’s not in his strength but his
weakness. It’s not in his achievements but in what he has yet to achieve that
St. Paul discovers a deep and satisfying and yet paradoxical faith in God.
so do we! Hard as it may seem, we have to press on despite all we have achieved
in the past. These things may have been valuable in their day but now they must
be forgotten lest they encourage us to distract our attention and slacken our
pace, weaken our resolve and diminish our energy so that the race is never
the distance travelled. Look ahead and see what is yet to be done! And find
some comfort in Robert Frost’s midnight traveller. His horse is weary and so he
stops to rest for a while in a wood on a snowy evening. The horse is puzzled.
Where is the farmhouse? Where is the warmth? Where is the hospitality?
The darkness and the loneliness of the woods filling up with snow remind the midnight traveller that his journey is incomplete and he has far to go before he can enjoy his rest. ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep,/But I have promises to keep,/And miles to go before I sleep,/And miles to go before I sleep.’
live a good life and I do all the good I can – surely that’s what God demands?’
Strangely enough, it’s not! If this is what motivates your life and if this is
how you hope to find peace then think again! It doesn’t work. Remember what St.
Paul says? He describes himself as ‘not
having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law …’
good, obeying the law, choosing right over wrong doesn’t put us right with God.
It’s more likely to make us feel good about ourselves at the expense of other
people especially those who don’t make the grade or keep the law. And, worse
than that, it makes us feel badly about ourselves when those who do no good
actually prosper by their apparent unrighteousness!
truth is that we cannot be put right with God by our own effort nor by
obedience to some external law for St. Paul describes this righteousness as ‘the righteousness of God based on faith’. In
other words, the best way to feel good about ourselves is simply to experience
it as a gift of God!
peace is to be found in our relationship with God – the knowledge that his Son
suffered and died for us and the power of his undying love to forgive the
unforgivable, accept the unacceptable. And in this undeserved forgiveness and
gracious acceptance, we find peace!
There is a spiritual freedom which enabled Jesus to embrace the cross and St. Paul to write joyfully to the Philippians from a Roman prison and people like Nelson Mandela to endure thirty years in jail on Robben Island before emerging from that soul-destroying experience to liberate a nation from the prison-house named apartheid.
How did they survive if not because their freedom was independent of their external circumstances and more dependent on their inner life – their values, perceptions, understanding, faith. All the things which nourish the spirit. All the things which we celebrate in the Kirk!
Recently, I attended a cremation in a newly built crematorium
north of Dundee. It was in a beautiful
rural location with well-landscaped grounds and a fine water feature which
could be seen by the mourners gathering for the service.
During the worship, we were invited to stand for the words of
committal. Thereafter, the stewards brought forward the family flowers and
placed them on the catafalque where the coffin had been placed prior to its
As they did this, the organist played some very quiet but
fitting music on the organ. I instantly recognised it as the traditional music
for the Aaronic Blessing. These ancient words are three thousand years old and
are located in the Book of Numbers.
Traditionally these words, which were first formed in the
mouth of Aaron, Moses’ brother, have
been sung in the Church of Scotland at
rites of passage – baptism and confirmation, ordination and sometimes holy
‘The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’ What timeless words and sweeter music to accompany us on the final steps of our earthly pilgrimage!
When we were in America, we went to an Episcopal Church on
the Sunday morning. Like everyone else, we went up to the altar rail to receive
the Sacrament. I knelt down beside Mary-Catherine.
The associate priest was dispensing the host in a silver
ciborium. We had met her at our nephew’s funeral the day before. As she
approached my kneeling frame, she gave a start and dropped the host back into the ciborium.
She exclaimed, ‘Oh
dear, I didn’t recognise you!’ Of course, I was expecting her to say, ‘The body of Christ which is broken for you!’
For a moment, the solemnity of the moment was broken and we were transferred
from the altar to the high street!
Perhaps holy things can become sterile if they are divorced
from the realities of the high street and the importance of human contact and
personal relationships. The bread and the wine belong to the high street as
much as the House of God.
And if there is to be a deeper communion, we need to recognise the other preferably by name. A holy communion should not lose the intimacy of a real encounter with the other as much as God. We take the lead from him who says, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.’
Tragedy befell the family. His wife suffered from a serious
accident which left her debilitated. Two things happened. An estranged member
of the family was reunited and faith in God was strengthened. ‘All things work together for good …’
I suppose it is inevitable that parents feel that they could
always do more for their children or when things happen, they feel they could
have done more. The truth is that parenting is an art and not a science.
As they grow up, our children depend on others more than us and that is as it should be. We are leaving their world behind.
What we do is often neither right nor wrong but just the best we can do at that moment in time! And if everything we do is done in love then what more can we say or do?
Last Saturday, we had a very successful Strawberry Fayre in
the Community Hall, East Linton. It raised over £800 for church funds. This was
largely due to the enthusiasm and imagination of our hard working committee. There
were two striking features.
The first was the contribution of two teenagers who played
piano and sang throughout the whole afternoon. They won spontaneous applause on
several occasions and encouraged people to remain in the hall. It was just as
full at the end as it had been at the beginning!
The second was the presence of several members of our
neighbouring congregations at Athelstaneford and Whitekirk. They were
accompanied by a former minister and remained in the hall for most of the afternoon.
Their presence was striking given that our Kirk Session had voted recently to form a parish grouping with them rather than the union which they had overwhelmingly endorsed. The generosity of their presence was the most eloquent challenge to our more measured response.
We are due to celebrate our thirty-ninth wedding anniversary.
Inevitably, some things have changed since we were first married. Others have
not. We have never mastered the art of getting ready to go out together at the
If I get ready first, I fill the waiting minutes with another
pressing piece of work. By which time, Mary-Catherine is ready – and because I
am not, she does the same. And so it continues in an endless cycle!
It is the Protestant work ethic celebrated by Kipling in one of his most famous poems. ‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute/ With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,/ Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it … Quite a prize!
So I smiled recently when I read about Solomon Schechter, the Jewish
scholar. Towards the end of his life, he collapsed in the street. Waiting for assistance to come, he asked his
wife for a book. In her puzzlement, he replied, ‘But I just can’t lie here doing nothing!’
He died there reading one of his favourite books! It turned out to be ‘The Antiquary’ by the
Scottish historical novelist Sir Walter Scott. I wonder what mine will be?
As you can imagine, Mary-Catherine got quite a number of
cards from colleagues, clients and others on her recent retirement. There was
one which was particularly striking. It features seven butterflies in flight.
Although 7 is a prime number, in the Biblical context it is
the number of perfection. Hence the seven days of creation and the seventy
times seven which we are expected to
forgive another who does us wrong.
But the butterfly in our contemporary world is a symbol of new life. It has a striking
history – the egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and eventually the gloriously
coloured butterfly. It is a symbol of Easter and the resurrection of Christ.
However, Mary-Catherine’s well-wishers went a stage further
for they celebrated her retirement not only with seven butterflies but seven
butterflies which were dressed in the tartans of seven Scottish clans.
Curiously, the one on the top right hand corner is almost the Green Scott which we wear in our family. But for a white line …. But the white line is extremely important for it makes our tartan and our clan distinctive. It lifts up the design from two to three dimensions!
And this is what the gospel of new life does. It lifts us up
through Easter from our three dimensions into a fourth where space is
transformed by the miracle of the resurrection and time has an eternal
On Father’s Day, Sarah sent me this card. It had a touch of
humour. Dad hasn’t got the message. His gift is not an apron but a superhero
cape! And, of course, the message of the card is that this father is a super
What I liked more about the card was the presence of the
green dragon. For in sending this card, Sarah was alluding to a childhood
experience almost thirty years ago when she was three – and all the other
children in the family had gone to school.
She was home alone so on Mondays, Mary-Catherine, Sarah and I went out somewhere special together. I always took the green monster in my pocket. It was an eraser in the shape and colour of a green dragon! I still have it!
Wherever we went I would plant the green dragon secretly in a place which Sarah could discover for herself. Whenever she did, we got a rare gift – her excited pleasure in discovering that the green monster had come too!
Part of the responsibility of parents is to create vibrant memories which carry with them the
sparkle of love so that in another day when the green dragon is not to be found, a memory
can be relived and the playfulness of love sustain and inspire.
Mary-Catherine’s favourite bird is the cardinal. It is deep
red like the cardinal’s cassock. She has made a feature of it in her North
Carolina Quilt because it is the state bird and is commonly seen there.
I saw it for myself when we were there recently. But it is
not my favourite. Until recently that honour belonged to the kingfisher which I
have seen infrequently down by the Tyne. Its brilliant colour and fast pace
make it a joy to see.
However. last week I was standing a foot away from my sister-in-law’s
hummingbird table when a humming bird arrived to drink from the nectar which
had been placed there. It’s roughly one part sugar to four parts water.
I was astonished at his
beauty. He had a fluorescent red collar around his neck and a green cloak
on his back and a disproportionately long sharp beak which he used to suck up
the nectar. But what surprised me most of all was his size.
The hummingbird was so small, the tiniest bird I have ever
seen! He looked so fragile. And when he
drank from the table he sat in the air fluttering his wings never changing position.
Such was his equilibrium. He was neither disturbed by my presence nor his multi-tasking!
His fragile beauty and obvious equanimity reminded me of Jesus. ‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’ Oh that we could leave things hanging in the air and be undisturbed in flight!