Bird

Matt Sewell

You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow.

Proverbs 26 2

This is clever, really clever. (I know it’s in Proverbs and it’s Solomon and clever is his thing but it is still striking) I don’t spend that much time in Proverbs. I don’t find it what you might call upbeat, though I understand the reasons why. I think all knowing God-given wisdom and seeing the world exactly as it is could be a curse as much as a blessing. 

Birds are strange don’t you think? Beautiful and strange, almost otherworldly. I do know a man to whom life has maybe not been kind and he keeps parrots. They are his very dear friends and it is a lovely thing to see but I think birds can be scary as well. I live in a city but by the coast. We see plenty of seagulls They are astonishingly beautiful when you get up close. The whitest white contrasts with a lovely flat grey. They are not always popular here, they will take food and they are noisy but I love them and, to be fair, they were here first! I once spent a companionable hour with one in the park while I ate my sandwich. He waited patiently until I had finished and I secretly threw him the last corner (frowned upon round here) and in return I got to surreptitiously glance up now and then and look closely at how lovely he was.

Wrens and swallows are  different though, tiny little scraps of life, darting around. There is a lovely drawing in my bumper book of garden birds. We once had a wren trapped upstairs in the bank where I worked. It was so small yet getting it out was such a task. It was terrified and swooped and dived, making us all jump and run. It felt like havoc had been unleashed. Yet when we eventually got it out – we had been the ones that had done all the damage – thrashing about and running for cover.

Which is why this is so clever. An undeserved curse, a piece of gossip about you. I’m not talking about the more serious things that go on, which need to be dealt with properly – just the day to day slights and nastiness that can hurt so much.  It’s horrible and it makes you jump. Not unlike a dive at you from a swallow. But it can’t damage you – not really. Not if you keep it in context. If we react badly and it is understandable, I think, when we do, then the damage it does to us can be out of all proportion to the original slight. The old-school instruction may be the best idea. Take it to God. Leave it there. We are God’s own. God looks after his own. He will be our shield and defender. Bat it away and get on. 

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