I’m back again. Writing at the Citizen’s Band. I wasn’t going to let you know that. I was going to write about picking blackberries. But now that I’m here, I just can’t help it. Because something unexpected has happened.
It’s about 90 degrees, even in the sinking sun. People are fanning themselves with the programs trying to stir an elusive breeze. The crowd is smaller, no doubt attributed to the (balmy) weather. But the thing that really caught my eye is – are you ready for this? – the swallows.
Half a dozen swallows, maybe more, are performing circus stunts above the crowd. I don’t know that anyone else has even noticed them, but I can’t imagine how they couldn’t. They’re swooping through the air in Blue Angel precision, passing each other wing tip to wing tip before darting out of my sphere of vision. I’ve never thought of swallows as particularly impressive birds. Their pointy wings flutter like a bat’s. They fly in a stutter, and when they glide they don’t soar so much as struggle to stay afloat, tipping madly one way and then another. And yet seeing them up there tonight, darting above the band, has captivated me.
I’d like to say something artistic, like how they flap their little wings in time to the music, but they don’t even do that. They are completely incongruous to the band. I don’t think they even notice the band. And what music tonight! It has a distinctly Latin flair. There are drums and a maraca, and after that I can’t name half the percussion instruments. One of them looks like a pair of wooden spoons that a burly fellow in the back is banging against his elbow. It produces a sound like angry crickets.
There’s something about music, though, that makes you forget for a moment about the day, and about the heat. And there’s something about the swallows that is… what is it exactly? Friendly.
As I’ve typed, the acrobatics have lessened. Perhaps they’ve headed home to bed. There is an occasional one or two, but in their absence the space above the band is suddenly a vacuous and deepening blue. Last week I hadn’t noticed the lack of them, but this week their absence suddenly becomes conspicuous. I am reminded of the passage that not one sparrow falls to ground unnoticed by God (Matthew 10:29). I imagine the same is true of a swallow. Every swallow who flutters home to bed is watched over by God.
Even more than that, I am reminded of the very beginning, when out of a vacuous space, God created everything. The sun, the moon, the waters, and the earth. The creeping creatures, the roaring creatures, and the fluttering creatures. Even the darting little swallows. And God called it all good.
I am reminded, when I see that empty blue, of the God who filled it with life. And with love. And with friendly little swallows. (Off to bed little swallow.)
And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21