The Swallow Word on the Week 2nd September 2023.
In my daily pre breakfast excursions with Tess the Pugaleer we have been accompanied by the melodic twitter of the swallows who are massing on the other side of the hawthorn hedge. The latter has been allowed to grow an extra two feet as part of the farm wilding so we can pass close to the roost un-noticed.
Using the binoculars, you can distinguish the metallic blue body and white front. The tail has two streamers which extend its vee shape and distinguish it from the Martin as they seem to feed together on the abundance of insects that are blown out of the trees in the spinney. The dark red throat is another feature although it is hard to see.
In fact, the swallow is best viewed in the evening sun light as it roosts on the electricity wires illuminated by the low sun revealing its beauty. Perhaps their favourite resting place is the reed bed. There both insects and water are available. There is also mud with which they make their cup shaped nests on the stable rafters. They use the same nest annually.
In the migration to South Africa the birds cover approximately 200 miles daily. The chicks are required to grow up fast to stick the pace and those from a second brood have an extra hard task to get into shape for the flight. Its vital piece of equipment is its beak. This has a wide gape which when wide open, it uses to scoop up insects in flight or quench its thirst by skimming the surface of a pond.
When God created the swallow he gave it a great GPS system! To have such a small bird (7.5 inches in length) span the globe and find its way back to the exact location, in the stable it left, is truly astounding. The Psalmist has the swallow nest in the temple where he teams up with the sparrow where they join in the singing and both appear to be welcome (Psalm 84 verses 3/4).
Jesus speaks of a broken world where the death of his followers through persecution is a present reality. Then he says not to be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. He teaches that we are to fear God not man. To illustrate this Jesus cites the sparrow which is almost worthless yet not one of them fall to the ground without the will of God.
The lesson is brought home by the fact we are known so intimately that the hairs of our head are numbered! So we are not to fear in the world but realise we are worth more than many sparrows! (St Matthew 10 verses 26 to 31). This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. So we know and rely on the love God has for us. (1 John 4 verses 10 to 16).