creation Theology Thought of the Day

The classroom of creation

The following quote comes from a translation of the life of St Mungo as told by Jocelin of Furness early in the 12th Century.

The robin in the story is the one on the coat of arms of Glasgow, and its story is well known. What is perhaps less well known is this discussion about why a serious churchman of high standing should pay attention to sparrows, rock pigeons … or a robin redbreast.

Now a certain little bird, which is called a redbird by the common people because of its ruby-colored small body, was accustomed to receive its daily food from the hand of Servanus, the servant of God, by the command of the heavenly Father, without whom not even one sparrow falls toward the earth. And having accepted such intimacy, he displayed familiarity and tameness towards him. Sometimes he was even accustomed to rest upon his head, or his face, or his shoulders, or his lap, assisting him as he prayed or read, and by the striking of its wings, or by the sound of its inarticulate voice, and by whatever gestures of affection, it would exhibit those towards him. And sometimes the face of the man of God, overshadowed by the acts of the bird, was covered with cheerfulness, admiring truly in the small creature the great power of the Creator, by whom the mute speak and irrational things are known to experience reason

And because many times this bird came near to him or departed by the command and will of the man of God, it reproached the unbelief and hardness of his students’ hearts, and exposed their disobedience. And let this lesson not seem unsuitable to anyone, seeing that God, by the voice of a mute animal and one used to the yoke, rebuked the folly of the prophet, and Solomon, the most wise of men, sent the slothful man to the ant in order that by contemplating his labor and diligence, he might shake from himself his stupefaction and sloth. And a certain holy and wise man summoned his religious to consider the work of the bees, so that in their little bodies they might learn the beautiful discipline of ministry. But perhaps it will seem a wonder to some that a man so holy and righteous would take delight in respect to the play or gestures of a little bird. But let it be known to those of such thoughts that righteous men at times need to be softened from their own sternness so that those who in spirit go out to God are more temperate to us at times Even the bow must sometimes be loosened from its excessive strain, so that it will not be weak and useless for sending the arrow when the time of need comes. For birds seek with outstretched wings to fly in the air, and then once again with these same wings they descend to settle down to the lower earth.

Read the full translation here…

Have a look for the stories referred to in the text (the first prophet mentioned is Balam). More importantly, keep an eye on your garden, or the park when you go for a walk. God has been speaking with humans, teaching, a lot longer than we have had words to write about it.

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