The Sparrow’s Nest

THE SPARROW’S NEST
READ:  Psalm 84

“How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord.  My whole being yearns and pines for the Lord’s courts.  My heart and my body cry out for joy to the living God.  Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its young … How blessed are those who abide in Your house … Lord, blessed are those who trust in You,” – Psalm 84;1-3a, 4, 12

abidingMy manual labor for the day was to clear away the debris in and around the hay barn.  Midway through the clearing away, I came upon a sparrow sitting in her nest, a nest tucked away, nearly hidden, within a pile of dead branches that we monks had thrown away.  And there … in my moment of moral decision, this sparrow looked up at me with the eyes bestowed upon her by God.  And in her eyes, she asked me a question.  Was I to proceed with my resolve in carrying out my supposedly God-bestowed human will … or was I to respect with humility this sparrow who was carrying out her own God-given will?  In former, less contemplative times, I would have tried to move her nest so that I might humanely accomplish my labor, (I have never been a cold-hearted soul)  somehow knowing in my heart of hearts that this was more a conscience relieving compromise than a compassionate reality considering the ways of birds and their nests.  But, in these latter years of a more sensitive appreciation of the ways and wishes of God, I now must consider these matters, for even these sparrow-sized issues are of great worth to the heart of God.

In my reflection, I remembered Psalm 84.  It speaks of sparrows and swallows and the nests they build.  When one reads the Psalm you sense that the Psalmist is writing while sitting in the Temple.  And as he sits there contemplating the wonders of God’s house, he notices that some sparrows and swallows have built their nests within the rafters of the Temple.  Should they be cleared away?  That would seem reasonable … surely an argument could be made for such a relocation.  But as you read the Psalmist’s words, you gain the sense that he believes that they ought to remain, for they too abide in the house of the Lord.

At Greyfriars’ Abbey, we share life with sheep and milk cows, a burro and a Great Pyrenees sheepdog … and oh, yes, Jazz, the abbey cat.  These are all part of our domestic life here on the farm, but we also have abiding with us, a family of foxes, a company of squirrels, a colony of blackbirds, warblers in the daytime and owls at night, and many, many more of God’s creatures, both great and small.  But when I return home to my condo community, a tidy little colony specifically designed and administered for the demands of tidy, human souls … God’s other-than-human creatures seem more like but occasional visitors merely stopping by rather than fellow creatures with whom we abide.  But I suppose that has always been part of our human nature … we would rather abide only with those creatures most like ourselves, creatures who look like us, who think like us, who live and behave like us.

When I am residing at Greyfriars’ Abbey, I feel somehow closer to the Garden of Eden than I do when I return to my world of manicured lawns and look-alike homes.  When I abide among the sparrows and the swallows, my own nest feels like it is feathered with Peace.  Feathered with Peace …yes, that is the response of both my soul and the Psalmist’s soul when we both came upon one day nests in the House of God … we came to know the experience of Holy Abiding … abiding together in a holy place … a place majestic and yet a place quite humble, a place of mutual respect and mutual admiration, a place …well, of … Holy Peace.

My Loved Ones, in the overheated, over-crowded, over-conflicted atmospherics of our present-day human world, how deep is our sense of … Abiding … in particular … our sense of Abiding Together.  It seems, sometimes, that we have so neglected the values of peace and community … that we often speak of them with disdain.  what has become of us?  What has become of us, Lord?

“How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord.  My whole being yearns and pines for the Lord’s courts.  My heart and my body cry out for joy to the living God.  Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its young … How blessed are those who abide in Your house … Lord, blessed are those who trust in You,” – Psalm 84;1-3a, 4, 12

Pax,

Brother Anthony of the Cross
(jim mcwhinnie)

Visit my poetry site, Willow Words, by clicking www.willowwordspoetry.wordpress.com .
Also visit my new Psalter site for a reading of the Psalms www.thepsalmsbybrotheranthony.wordpress.com

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One Response to The Sparrow’s Nest

  1. Lata Hall says:

    Thank you for today’s meditation. This is my favourite Psalm. 10 of us will be redoing this psalm next monday. Your way of meditating is a better way to look at life itself. May the Lord continue to speak through your heart and soul. God Bless, Lata

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