I’d opened the car-park and eco toilet at the reserve (it was my turn on the rota) and had time to walk the path alongside the River Stour. A female hairy dragonfly was hawking the river – I caught my breath as it flew over the bank and alighted on some long grass very near where I was standing. It hung there vertically in typical hawker fashion. ‘Hairies’ are a small dragonfly in the ‘hawker’ group, usually the first of that group to appear (in spring/early summer). Like all hawkers they seem to be constantly on the wing, not perching obligingly for the camera as some dragonflies do, and their jinking flight makes them hard to photograph. I’ve tried a few times and failed miserably.
So seeing one resting was a bit special. I didn’t have my camera with me (that’s the way it goes) but did have my close-focus binoculars and the dragonfly filled the view. Its colours were so vibrant and its markings so distinct. It was beautiful. And yet, when I lowered my binoculars, looked away for a moment and then looked back, I realised that if I hadn’t seen the dragonfly land, I would almost certainly have missed it. It all but disappeared against its surroundings. How could colours so vibrant serve as such excellent camouflage?
It takes a bit of practice to get your eye in to notice things in nature. I’m still very much a learner.
Paul says to the Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:18), ‘Give thanks in all circumstances’. I think, despite decades of trying to follow Jesus, I’m still a learner in this too. I’ve not found it easy. It struck me that it’s like that hairy dragonfly – in the busyness and messiness of life, it’s easy to miss the beautiful things that are there to give thanks for. That dragonfly triggered a resolve to ask God to give me better vision to see the things he puts my way that deserve my thanks.
Written for the Foxearth Meadows Prayer Newsletter. For the latest news from our reserve, sign up here to receive these quarterly emails.