Words of Light and Hope from Jane McLarty
This morning I saw a red kite wheeling over the farm track where Poppy the Jack Russell and I take our morning walk. The forked tail that twists and turns like a rudder to help the bird manoeuvre in the wind makes it one of the easiest birds of prey to identify.
This bird, in Shakespeare’s day a common scavenger in cities, was persecuted almost to extinction by the 1900s, reduced to just a few breeding pairs in Wales. It’s one of conservation’s success stories; they are gradually spreading from Wales
over the country – I was excited when I first started seeing them in the heart of Cambridge when I lived there, and even more delighted to see they have reached Norfolk.
This bird’s recovery makes me think of the poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘God’s Grandeur’, that begins ‘The world is charged with the grandeur of God.’ He mourns the way in which humanity has trodden and spoilt the earth, ‘all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil’. By doing so we’ve also somehow dulled our own contact with nature and therefore our sense of God’s beauty and splendour – ‘nor can foot feel, being shod.’ And yet, there is hope, because nature constantly refreshes itself: ‘There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.’ Or rather,
nature is refreshed because of the loving work of the Holy Spirit that ‘over the bent World broods with warm breast’.
So in this world where at present all the news we hear seems bad – destruction in Ukraine, climate change, poverty here in the UK – there is always hope, because God has not given up on us. God is always working to redeem and rescue. God broods lovingly over us like a mother bird; hovers attentively over us, we might imagine, like the red kite.
Photo by Altaf Shah: https://www.pexels.com/photo/rid-kite-bird-flying-under-blue-sky-6437998/