Last week was the RSPB ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’. Perhaps you joined in? The idea was to spend 1 hour between January 29th and 31st counting the number of birds in your garden. They had to land and to avoid double counting you recorded the highest number of any species at any one time, not every time you see an individual. So, if you saw one robin in the first five minutes, then three 20 minutes later, then one another 15 minutes later, that’s three, not five… I was confused initially too!
Predictably, during the hour we chose, we had fewer birds than usual: two robins, a woodpigeon, a magpie, a dunnock and two blackbirds. Maybe it was the weather – our chosen hour was rather dreary, maybe they decided to stay somewhere sheltered. Good for them! It was a shame not to see more of our ‘regulars’ (nothing particularly remarkable, great tits, blue tits, coal tits – though we did once have a heron perched in the yew tree!), but it was good to feel part of something, to take time out just concentrating on the natural world, and to contribute to informing our care for that world.
I think many of us are finding lockdown 3 rather dreary. The novelty has well and truly worn off! For those of you on your own, and those of you with little ones at home, that feeling might be particularly strong. We aren’t seeing and experiencing all the colour of life as we usually would – the number and variety of birds landing in our garden is down. We don’t have as many opportunities to feel part of things, to enjoy the world outside without limits, and it might be harder for us to contribute to the community – whether because we are shielding, generally stuck at home, or are juggling too many things at once.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel now the vaccine is being rolled out, and there is hope for a gradual re-opening of life. Perhaps what we need in the meantime is to hold on to the moments of colour, connection and contribution we do have. And when we begin to ‘come out the other side’ to remember not to take the small things that add colour to our lives for granted. Things like stopping to watch the birds. And perhaps we should ask ourselves what we could change about the ‘old normal’ to make more space for those things. Maybe the ‘new normal’ can have more space in it to enjoy and care for ourselves, each other and the world around us.
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? Therefore, do not worry. (Matt. 6.26, 31a)
With my love and prayers for you,