According to the tourist industry, spending time with our ‘feathered friends’ has become a popular part of any ‘staycation’ – as holidays at home are called by the ‘trendies’nowadays. One of my earliest hobby enthusiasms was influenced by my late Aunt. Focusing her eyes, through her trusty pair of war-time binoculars she pointed out, joyfully, the Bluetits, Jackdaws, Starlings and Magpies she could see from her upstairs flat.
Sorting through my shelves I thought of her, as I came across a fascinating book by the Christian writer John Stott, entitled: Birds My Teachers. His words have made me look out on to my small garden with larger eyes: It was Jesus Christ himself in the Sermon on the Mount who told us to be bird watchers! (Mt 6.26)
Over the years, I have been trying to develop a new branch of science, which a friend and I have jocularly called ‘orni-theology’ or the theology of birds…The first lesson that birds can teach us is faith…‘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 thatit must be they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me’ (E Cheney) (Stott, p9-10).
Fr Peter Conley