A Mischief of Magpies

I’m sitting in the dining room trying to read a book which I’m finding very difficult and dry. It’s one of those books that uses six words where one would have done but that also uses the synonyms tab to find the most obscure word to mean something very simple; either that or the author ate a thesaurus for breakfast on the day of writing. Whichever it is it isn’t helpful.

My mind switches off and I tune in to the bird song coming through the open window. The wind is blowing petals off the white rambling rose which grows all along the fence and this year is full of flowers and buds; it looks like confetti across the grass. I can even smell its scent from where I’m sitting.

I can hear dunnocks, sparrows, starlings and a blackbird and goldfinches are sitting on the wire chattering away. Suddenly a wren shouts from the hedge and the songs change to alarm calls. Something unwelcome has shown itself. It goes quiet and then there is the sound of wings taking flight.

I watch and wait. I can’t see anything that has disrupted the peace of the scene I’d been watching. Then suddenly I see them. Three magpies have ambushed a house martin as it was returning to its nest with a beak full of flies. Earlier this week three Magpies, (Were they the same three?) took another adult house martin from this same nest and so it’s important that one adult remains to look after the chicks.

Although I know it’s nature and the magpies may have young to feed I can’t stand it and so rush out shouting. The magpies fly off in one direction and the house martin, shakes itself off, pauses, (Is it going to be okay?) and flies back to the nest. But what about next time? Those magpies won’t give up and I can’t guard the nest 24 hours a day. Later, the magpies return and in response I throw pebbles at them and then think about how guilty I’d feel if I actually hit one and hurt it, so, next time I throw water.

I don’t seem to feel the way when the sparrow hawk visits and takes a pigeons, although I have told her that pigeons, jackdaws and magpies are the only birds she can take. Then I sit in wonderment and watch. I may rush for the camera or binoculars which are always ready in the hall.

You see, I have developed a hierarchy of birds and magpies are definitely near the bottom, just above town pigeons and below jackdaws. Starlings vary in position. At times they can be some way up the list but when they mug other birds for a place on the feeders they slip down to the bottom, but still above magpies.

Do we have a hierarchy of people; those who we like and will talk to and those who we prefer not to and try to avoid?

Do we avoid those whose skin is a different colour, those who are poorly dressed and may be a bit smelly, those who are loud and confident or those who are quiet and shy?

Are we attracted to those in power or leadership roles who we think can give us a leg up in our career or a place in church?

Do we look at people as resources to meet our needs and help us on our journey?

Do we compete to be the best, the busiest, the most spiritual?

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

James 2:1-13 “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’, have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement.