Today I was busy at Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve, doing some one-person jobs that needed doing. I hadn’t really noticed much wildlife all morning, except maybe for the clatter of the odd wood pigeon. Then I sat down to have a break and eat my sarnies.
After a while I began to be aware of the blue tits and great tits coming quite close. I drew breath as I realised a couple of jays were passing nearby along a line of hazel. Then a small group of long-tailed tits bustled past in their busy way. The winged procession continued: a sparrowhawk flew over and a russet-brown wren flew past, low and fast into a thicket; then a kestrel, high above. I realised (by its call) another ‘little brown job’ I was looking at must be a chiffchaff; then a reed bunting, and a mistle thrush, and two robins seemingly competing with their liquid song, not to forget the green woodpeckers in stereo.
I thought: ‘The birds are there; nature is there … I need to make space to see it all, and take it in’.
My thoughts moved on. God is there too, his word is ‘very near to you. It is in your mouth and in your heart’, as Moses reminded the people in Deuteronomy 30:14. I’m not the quickest person to spot wildlife and not the quickest person to remember to pray.
Perhaps I need to make more space to look and to listen and to let God speak to me.
A lot of us fill our lives with purposeful activity, and that may include time earmarked for prayer. Maybe prayer needs us to start by making space. The Covid-19 crisis has reduced some of the activity in our lives. Could that help us, and could nature help us, to make space to listen and to open ourselves in prayer to God?
Amidst a passage of warning, the prophet Isaiah (in Isaiah 30:15) conveyed this message from the Sovereign Lord: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength’.
Maybe the space the crisis has opened up for some of us is the opportunity for that kind of ‘R & R’ in our lives and for us to learn more of that quietness and trust.
This reflection was written by Andy Jowitt for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and prayer.’ Andy Jowitt is the Volunteer Community Engagement Officer for Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve
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