Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Nudging Bird... A Kereru Strike and The Spirit of God's Leading on the Journey.

Kereru are the New Zealand native wood pigeon. If you've read some older posts of mine ( you'll know that for me they have become a symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit's in my life. As a pigeon they are of course in the dove family and in scripture the dove is a symbol for the presence of the Holy Spirit. The ancient Celtic monks used to use the wild goose as a contextualised symbol (as there were not many doves on the rugged coastlines of Ireland and Scotland), as they did seem to our forebears in the faith to embody the idea of the Spirit articulated in John 3: 8  "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Interestingly enough in New Zealand one of the most distinct sounds of wings is the Kereru. You don't know where it has come from or where it is going but you hear it as it passes by.

In Dunedin where we lived for three years, Kereru kept turning up at opportune moments. Moments and places where I just couldn't help but realise they were there as what Leonard Sweet calls "Nudges") > Times when God was trying to get my attention. There was I time I was depressed and wondering if God had abandoned me ( training for the ministry can be a bit like that sometimes) I looked out my window only to see three Kereru sitting on the power lines on the power lines outside looking in at me. A real trinitarian moment. another time I was grumbling and praying and worrying about financial matters (being a stundet with four kids) and I looked up and saw a Kereru on the power lines with it's head under its wings asleep in the sun and sensed what Adrian Plass calls 'that disturbing voice at the back of my mind I equate with the voice of God' say... " Is that how you see me Howard? Asleep in the sun? Disinterested?" and of course the words of Psalm 121:4 came to mind " indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." "point taken" I replied. Another time I was sharing with a Student in the Quad at Otago University in a conversation about the gospel and I heard the flap of Kereru wings and looked up to see a Kereru land on a tree in the middle of the crowded quad and look down at us, as if saying this is a God moment. I could go on and often do.

Moving to Auckland however, I have missed the sound and sight of Kereru, maybe I am not as observant or they do not come into the city. I have had bird 'nudge's' while living here, a realisation that maybe in this urban environment that just maybe the imported pigeon's that paint the building of down town guano white, little more than flying rats may in actual fact be a way of remembering the presence of the Spirit in my life. To reading Leonard Sweet's book "Nudge" about Bird's in buildings and finding myself dealing with a fantail that flew in but could not find its way out of the chapel.  (

Last month I found myself having a close encounter with a Kereru. It started with a sound a sickening "bang" as the bird flew into the window of the door I usually use to leave the chapel. It had flown straight into the glass (they never seem to see the glass). It was a big hit as the glass was left with a greasy outline smear of the bird's head and wings. I rushed outside to check it out. Kereru can damage themselves when they hit things my wife and kids can give you the physics of it. Heavy bird, moving fast hits solid object, forces etc. I went outside to check on the bird which was sitting stunned on the ground. After about 10 minutes when I was just thinking I should ring Bird Rescue or the SPCA, it simply shock its head spread its wings and flew off, weaving gracefully through the tree branches. 

I've been  thinking about that encounter. Yes it was probably just a coincident, and since that day I have been very aware of many bangs as smaller birds hit the upper windows of the chapel hall. But it has got me wondering. Just after this happened I was told that the funding for the church plant I am involved in will be cut in February next year. Our backers have been very faithful in backing us and it is time for them to let it go. I have been quite depressed about that, but as I think about the Kereru that day I sense that (a flight of fancy I hear you say) there is a real sense of God letting me know that I can trust his Spirit to lead me on from here. from the chapel at the University to keep going somewhere else with the same church plant, or maybe even away from this place to a new place and a new context. I needed the nudge or the bang the loud crashing sound to make me realise that. I don't have any definite answers or kleadings at the moment. Perhaps like the kereu that hit the glass, I'm a bit numb and dazed however I do know that the Spirit is here in the midst of this with me and is able to lead and guide me from here. ... watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Your words about Kereru has given me clarity about guidence from God