On one of the windows of my study, there was recently the ghostly outline of a bird’s wing, left when an unfortunate pigeon got confused and flew into the glass. It had left a white silhouette outline of a single wing, enough to show that it had been there, but not enough to show it’s entire shape. Startling me from my work, I looked up and saw the pigeon land on a nearby branch, look a little confused by what had happened and, within a minute it had taken to the wing again, this time in a hopefully more successful direction. But left on my window was a reminder of the unsuccessful attempt of the pigeon to make it’s way forward.
We’ve all been there – trying to do something that seems to be set up not quite to work out. For me, it’s been a lifetime of not really being very good at sport. I reached the point at secondary school where I was frequently the last person to be picked for teams. I had school reports that tended to show an ‘A’ for effort (dipping to a ‘B’ when I lost enthusiasm for sport completely), but always something much less high-flying – perhaps a ‘C’ or ‘D’ (I think there may even have been an ‘E’ one year) – for achievement in the subject. For me, the type of sports I was expected to excel in were not the things I was naturally good at. I gave it a go, but it didn’t work out.
Twenty or so years on, I have, ironically, found a fitness regime that I can call my own. I’m fairly successful in taking myself to the gym, doing some running and lifting some weights. It’s certainly not the same kind of fitness regime I did at School – and at the time I probably wouldn’t have been very good at it – but now it seems to be something that I can do successfully, and be pleased to see the benefits.
In our life as a Church we sometimes find that things we try to reach into our community don’t always have the success we would like. We make plans, we pray, and we call upon the Spirit to bless us. Sometimes our endeavours strike a chord with the community and we find a way to share our faith with those around. Other times, we find that ideas don’t quite fly, and don’t quite make it out into the world around us as we had anticipated. Sometimes, the wing of the dove of the Spirit of God leaves a metaphorical outline on the inside of our Church’s windows rather than nesting in the trees outside.
But perhaps sometimes we just need to try new and different things. We can see the outlines of previous efforts – places and times where we thought the Spirit was leading us but that didn’t quite work out – and that can be enough to disorientate us from making the effort again. Perhaps, like my experience of sport, we need to find the right kind of options for us and see if we can find something that is authentic to what we are, our abilities, and resonates with us about the kinds of things we are passionate about now – not just in the past. Of course, each project we try has the faint outline of the Spirit’s wing upon it, but that’s not quite the same as flying wildly in the community we love.
Maybe over the summer months we can have a think about what ways we might want the Spirit to fly in our community and what we might be able to do to let it be successful.