Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch Pew Sheet 30 October 2022
When I first camped in the Manse, the only desk among all the furniture which you lovely congregation supplied, was in the middle bedroom. If you’re familiar with the Manse layout, you’ll know that is right opposite my neighbour and our member, Helen Sugars. At the time, there was verdant foliage rambling (like this very article) around the fence separating us. And in this foliage, little birds swooped, nested and twittered all day long. The desk faced the wall, so my right ear, the one which sort-of functioned before my cochlear implant fixed the left side, was exposed to this avian symphony. It was so loud that even deaf me constantly heard it when I was at the desk, if I had my hearing aid in. I loved it.
Sparrows made up the majority of those little birds. They were everywhere in UK when I was a boy, but it seems that they have disappeared or are disappearing from much of Europe. Here, they are healthy and omnipresent. Add nostalgia to the mix of sensations.
As part of my chaplaincy training all those (well, 17) years ago, I had to offer theological reflections on a pastoral visit or encounter. Review the dialogue between a patient and me, examine my emotional response, was there a theological rationale for them, what did scripture have to say about the transaction? Every time I sat at that middle bedroom desk, I couldn’t help reflecting: What’s going on in my life? What’s it like to be 1,500km away from home? And every time, the answer came twittering from the hedgerow:
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matt 6). And
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matt 10).
(No remarks about hairs and head, please!)