Monday, March 23, 2020

Spring Winged Migration

God sees the little red knot fly,
It meets God's tender view;
If God so loves the varied birds,
I know God loves me, too.
God loves me, too, God loves me, too,
I know God loves me, too;
Because God loves the little ones,
I know God loves me, too.
No, these aren't the original words to this vintage children's hymn which didn't make it into Voices United. I adapted it to make the Creator more inclusive in terms of gender, and I changed the species of bird while I was at it, even though it alters Jesus' parable on which it was based. I hope I'm forgiven for my license. 
I was reading an article in Orion magazine called The Flight of the Redknot about a remarkable bird which makes an annual Spring journey from the southern tip of South America to the Canadian, and the return flight in Autumn. Deborah Cramer is the author of the piece, but the accompanying paintings by Janey Essley are equally evocative It got me thinking about the migration of other birds, and Monarch butterflies as well. Even some dragonflies migrate as far as 1500 kilometres, which astonishes me. We are still trying to figure out how these creatures do this, how they navigate across vast distances and huge bodies of water.

Tierra del Fuego 

I also pondered the reality of COVID-19, which is changing our human flight behaviour because of the real and present threat of a pandemic. Canadians abroad are struggling to return home, others are in isolation, either voluntary or imposed. International travel is shutting down and borders are closed. But not for the birds and the butterflies, and I'm grateful. 

In our backyard I can hear robins and red-winged blackbirds as I write. If we go into some more stringent form of lockdown I know these birds will still be there, and others, including hummingbirds and ospreys,  will make their return. 

Perhaps we can celebrate the return of each migratory bird we see, and marvel at their innate ability to find the way home. God loves us, and all of them. . 

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