Yesterday, I went on a long walk with my sister and her friend John. John is a birdwatcher and has lots to share on this pastime that, I admit, I have failed to date to truly comprehend. Half way through our journey, we got to a place in some woods that I have walked many times before. John stopped us both and told us that where we were standing was a world famous place that people come to hear Nightingales sing. On a summers evening, around dusk, the air is apparently thick with the most beautiful and transfixing song.
I have walked that wooded lane many times before and, I now know, I have done so in utter ignorance. It wasn't that the birds were not singing, nor that I was unable to hear them. Quite simply, I just wasn't listening or maybe, to put it better, I didn't know what I ought to be listening for . A phrase Jesus said often, that was his prayer for each of us, is that we would have 'ears to hear'. I think I now understand a little more of what he means thanks to John and his birdwatching.
Someone asked me recently, what does a Vicar do. Perhaps we just point people to the one singing that they have failed to notice is there. 'Flowers appear on the earth , the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come my darling; beautiful one, come with me' (Song of Songs 2:12-13)
Today is the New Year. I have started my Christmas present from my Vicar which was a years of daily reading by Henri Nouwen called Bread for the Journey. The reading for Jan 1st starts 'Each day holds a surprise' If yesterday's was a Nightingale, I wonder what todays will be?