Yesterday, the last of the House Martins visited their home, which is my home too.
The majority of those who nested and were born here in the disappearing summer flew south to their winter grounds some time ago, and I was surprised to see stragglers still here. They circled the house several times, touched the nests under the eaves as if to establish their right to return, and flew away with my farewell to them following on.
It happens every year, and every year I welcome them back and give thanks for their safe return, and every year I mourn their autumn departure and look forward, anxiously, to seeing them in the following spring. It is a challenging world for wildlife, and I reassure myself by remembering that House Martins have been living in these lands for thousands of years and that the species and many others have survived storms, tempests and ice ages to live with us still. We do not help them, yet, but we are learning how to do better even if we do not know it.
There is much to wonder about, isn’t there? It would be easy to wallow in a sea of fear about the state of the world, both human and planetary, but pointless too. A game of snakes and ladders is being played out on a grand cosmic board, and we are all players: we choose whether to go up or down a ladder, how to shake the dice and with what snakes to interact. The game began as a morality exercise from ancient India reflecting virtues and vices, and the truths of the game are visible all around us as we see the contrast of good deeds versus bad epitomised in the environmental protection movement and, alternatively, political self-service at the expense of the common good.
It is easy to be pulled into an atmosphere of doubt as our political systems disintegrate and our planet is threatened by so much. We are used to stability, normal seasons and to assume life will be the same or better forever. The sense of great change is strong, and it is the mystery of the change that is creating the fear: we do not know where we are going.
How we play the cosmic game of snakes and ladders and change will determine our future. To embrace the mystery and the topsy-turvey uncertainties of life today with a sense of adventure and trust accompanied by a determination to help the higher causes, when we can, will change the wheel of destiny. To live in the shadow of fear gives strength to the shadows.
The build-up to the eventful year of 2020 is under way. Let there be Light.