I’ve been joking with a college friend, Mia, about wanting to be a bird.
The first time I said it, in Religious Studies class, it was a beautiful day outside, and two birds were flying off into the sunset without any apparent care in the world, except to fly and to enjoy one another’s company.
This turned into a discussion, and soon the other two on our table joined in. We’d all dreamed of flying, as most of us have, and we wondered whether it would be better to be a bird or to have a broomstick like in Harry Potter. Charlotte brought in the psychology of it representing us wanting to be free, and we discussed the benefits of avian/human lives. Over the last couple of weeks its developed into “what animal would we be?”, and reminders that THE BIRD IS THE WORD…
…does get annoying after a while. But entertaining! 🙂
In English Literature today there was more talk of birds, and of nature in harmony within the poetry of William Blake.
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me:
O what sweet company!
Birds are lovely aren’t they? Tonight I’ve reflected on our many college discussions, and wondered why we’ve kept up the conversation for so long. And that led me to read some more of Blake’s poem The Schoolboy:
How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child, when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring!
O father and mother if buds are nipped,
And blossoms blown away;
And if the tender plants are stripped
Of their joy in the springing day,
By sorrow and care’s dismay, –
How shall the summer arise in joy,
Or the summer fruits appear?
Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy,
Or bless the mellowing year,
When the blasts of winter appear?
In Blake’s poems, spring represents the innocence in youth, and winter represents the experience in adulthood. Blake criticises adult society for clipping the wings of children and stopping them from cultivating their imagination. Blake’s poems are very thought-provoking.
(A past blog post here for more on the innocence and beauty of children – today I want to talk about freedom and time more.)
Now I think we’re all like the schoolboy in Blake’s poem. None of us want to be clipped, or wounded. We all want to fly. We all want to be free to be ourselves.
Then I remembered Dan Elijah G. Fajardo’s piece of art (at the top of this post). A Moment Like Forever he called it. I don’t know of his inspiration, or what his art means to him, but to me, it means a great deal.
In the art, there are the birds. They are flying between the sun and the earthen tree, connecting the transcendent “out-there” with the immanent “down-here”. There is the friend keeping us safe as we sit on the swing, whom we trust as we learn to fly higher and higher. Perhaps that girl on the swing will become a bird, and someone will help the boy keeping her safe to fly higher too. Or maybe the boy in the painting is simply Christ, our helper. Ever-present arms of support.
A Moment Like Forever. Hmm. I’m studying the “attributes of God” for my Philosophy of Religion exam on Wednesday, and find that God’s omniscience is speaking in this painting today. A Moment Like Forever, a moment as an eternal moment, soaring on the swing as our heart soars and breathes in tune with the free flying birds and the sun (and the Son come to that) and the earth. A moment in the now. A moment in the always.
We’d all like to be able to fly. I suppose the secret is, we don’t need to dream so much about it… because we can. In our earthen way, letting ourselves blossom and ignoring those who try to clip our wings, we can shine, we can fly, we can love and live and smile as God has always wanted us to.
We just have to believe in the beauty of ourselves. Something I’ll be talking about more in my first public sermon this Sunday. Come along! And if you can’t, I’ll be posting the transcript on Sunday afternoon.
Peace and love be with you…