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Even the Sparrow

Even the sparrow finds a home where he can settle down, and the swallow she can build her nest where she may lay her young. (Psalm 84)

The first picture is a drawing I made in a recycled psalter book. Each drawing is an intentional act of mindfulness, time to be still and notice. What takes your attention when you look at it?

Now is the time of year for nesting. And this year the birds are really noticeable. They have lost a lot of their fear and are coming closer. Yesterday I watched a magpie collecting nesting material from our back hedge, something I have never seen before, and on my solitary walk this morning I found small feathers, witness to nesting activities such as the defense of ones territory. This picture is my drawing of one of these witnesses.

We are all nesting, settling in and defending our territories. The somewhat draconian temporary laws that have been put in place by the government are designed to keep us safe in our homes. But let us not forget what a home is. It is a place of welcome ‘within the courts of the Lord’ as the psalm continues, a safe place for all. And eventually we need to fly the nest, as we will also have to go back to normal life at the end of this. Lets ensure that our freedoms are selfless not selfish, that we learn to welcome the stranger and take time to make home wherever we are and whoever we are with.

The second picture is a still from a video that was part of my installation piece Salutation, which showed in London in 2009. The feathers moved in the breeze, being blown by the winds of change. In another video, one feather stood buffeted by the wind but stable and stoic.

Take time to look at the two pictures and consider the following questions:

- What is home?

- What do we need to protect?

- What freedoms are selfish or selfless?

- When do we need to stay, to keep still?

- When do we need to go with the flow?

Meditative Activity

Materials: you will need a feather or a picture of a feather, a piece of paper, a pencil.

- take time to look at your feather, at least 5 minutes

- keep looking at your feather and picking up the pencil, start drawing what you see without looking at your drawing. All your attention should be on the feather not your drawing. Drawing is 90% looking.

- Be aware of how uncomfortable this might be to do, the lack of control you have over the result and what you notice about the feather

- Look at the result. You may surprise yourself!! Even an abstract can be beautiful

This meditation is part of a series that have been commissioned by Leeds Methodist Mission

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