Even Sparrows... Bird watchers


Posted: 02.02.24 in Articles category


Psalm 23 has spoken to me in many ways and at many times in my life. On one occasion while I was on retreat for a few days on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne the phrase in verse 3 “He restores my soul” jumped out at me. I pondered how God would go about restoring my soul. During that time on Lindisfarne, alongside the disciplines of prayer, Bible study and worship, God used my time in the natural world and particularly bird watching (a passion of mine for over 50 years) to restore my soul. I was at a challenging crossroads in the course of my life facing difficult decisions about my future. Watching the kestrel hover, facing into the headwind, reminded me of the gracious way that the unseen wind of the Spirit holds us and lifts us up.


Contemporary authors have explored the ability of birdwatching to enhance mental health and well-being in general. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is using the catchy phrase “Duck the stress” to encourage guests to visit its reserves on World Wetlands Day (February 2nd) claiming that just 10 minutes spent in a wetland is enough to boost your mood! Claire Thompson of BirdLife International in her book, “The Art of Mindful Birdwatching: Reflections on Freedom & Being” comments how birds inspire mindfulness and mindfulness enhances birdwatching - a helpful and healthy process. Robert Lynd comments that “In order to see birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”


Taking time to examine closely the detailed beauty and activities of the birds around us demands our focus and ensures we are “fully present” - in that way to appreciate both our surroundings and what God may have to say to us.


 Dale Hanson




Author: Dale Hanson
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