Free as a bird?

If you were a bird, what would you like to be? A magnificent eagle, perhaps, fearless, soaring high above the mountains, seeing every movement far below? Or a noisy blackbird, pinking away from dawn to dusk? Or a busy little blue tit, flitting from one feeding post to the next gathering food for its chicks?


Whatever type of bird you might fancy being – and I imagine that some of you can think of your own avian counterpart! – I’m sure that like me you have been able to hear much more wonderful birdsong over the past few months when there has been little traffic or other noise pollution to hide their happy chirruping.


What would it be like do you think, to be as free as a bird? But then, what do we actually mean by ‘free’? Free from what, exactly? True, birds don’t have to earn a living to pay for food, mortgages and all of the other essentials (and nonessentials).   They have within themselves all that they need to survive, to feed themselves

and their offspring, to build a home for their family; what else would they need?  But all freedoms come at a price, even for birds. There are always those who are higher in the pecking order (literally) who want to control them. And of course it’s the same for us as human beings: there is (almost) always someone flying higher than us with

more ‘power’ than we have ourselves. We are so fortunate in this country to enjoy so much more freedom than folk do in other places; that is something we should value and treasure.


Perhaps these last few weeks and months have been a salutary lesson for us all, to enjoy a bit more freedom, to take stock of our lives and our surroundings – and the creatures who share them with us. I do hope so.

Just in case you are wondering, if I were a bird I think I’d like to be a dove – God’s bird of peace. As the Psalmist says, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest…I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm’ (Psalm 55:6-8). Or maybe I’ll just be satisfied with simply being a plain brown sparrow, busy(ish) and watchful like all other birds, happy being lost in the crowd of my more important, colourful and noisier neighbours.

Revd Gary Williamson