A very vocal blackbird is singing in our back garden. I love to hear birds singing, but how did I not notice this one and hear its singing before? Perhaps I was just not listening.
The global coronavirus pandemic continues to bombard us daily with disturbing news and distressing images both locally and across the world: so many lives claimed and so much suffering and anguish affecting us individually and as a society.
And yet, the lockdown has given us the opportunity to tick things off our ‘to do’ list. Have you ever seen so many carefully-manicured front and back gardens; gleaming, power-hosed driveways; shining cars; and neat and tidy homes and garages?
I have taken advantage of both the lockdown and the glorious sunny weather not only to do some much-needed decluttering but also to spend some ‘me time’ in the garden, reading, being quiet, seeing home and family life and society in a new light, and listening – and that is where my friend, the blackbird, comes in.
As I listened, two particular thoughts came into my mind.
I realised that I need to listen more closely to God; he is speaking, but have I really been listening?
Sometimes God uses dramatic ways to get our attention, but more often than not, they are the exceptions. God generally speaks to us in quiet, simple ways – through the Scriptures, prayer, reflection, other people, and our own nature and conscience – but we can be so preoccupied with daily living that we just don’t listen.
Let us try to use the opportunities particularly afforded by the lockdown to take time to listen to that “still, small voice”, to listen – and respond.
The blackbird’s song also brought home to me just how much I am missing singing each week as part of our church choir, with choir practices and church services suspended.
Of course, not everyone is a member of a choir or a singer as such, but many of our MU members have found much comfort and solace in tuning into some of the many online services which, through the miracle of present-day technology, have sprung up in the absence of corporate worship.
When we sing together as a church family, or join in or just listen at home, we pray (St Augustine is reputed to have said: “To sing is to pray twice”). We also profess our faith; unite our heads and hearts in praise and worship; are spiritually strengthened; and build each other up in mutual love and support.
The blackbird is still singing; its song rings out and something resonates deep within me – I am reminded of some of the words of that much-loved hymn, How Great Thou Art:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee,
how great thou art, how great thou art!
Love, Alison x