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The blackbird’s call

I once spent some years working in an international organisation in a major European city, in a job often fraught with political tension. I found it a stressful environment, although it had many good and interesting features too. In such an environment it was easy to ‘forget’ God—the constancy of pressure was such that work-life became something of a blur. But one day something touched me—I don’t know why it impacted me on that particular day—the ‘signal’ finally got through perhaps.

I was walking through a busy part of town on my way home in the evening, surrounded by the usual hustle, bustle, traffic noise, and busy thoughts when suddenly, over the top of all the noise, I heard it: the clear sound of a blackbird calling. I simply couldn’t ignore it and found myself pausing in the street to listen. It seemed to me to be the voice of God reminding me that above it all He was still there. It may sound a trivial thing, but it had a profound impact on me. After that, I began to listen for the blackbird call, and found it strangely reassuring.

I also took to escaping from work at lunchtimes when I could, to visit a large park nearby. The sweet smell of soil freshly turned by the gardeners, the beautiful flowers and trees, and even ‘my’ tadpoles in one of the ponds re-established my connection with reality; the reality of God.

Now as we find ourselves on a real war footing, feeling the weight of sadness and helplessness anew every morning, it’s time again to hear the blackbird call, smell the soil, admire the plants, the autumn colours, and the glorious sunsets—all reminding us that God is here; He is still upholding His creation. We might be perplexed, but God’s other creatures are not, and carry on as usual. We might be frightened of the virus, but God is not. It is Easter Sunday as I write, the day Jesus rose from the tomb. Our King is alive and in the world beside us. There will be victory over this evil onslaught. In the meantime, listen to the blackbird call!

Murray Matthews