Holy Saturday 2021

The Bird that Forgot its Song

I read a rather sad news article this week about an Australian bird, the Regent Honeyeater, that has begun to forget its own song. Fledglings would normally learn their song from other adult birds but they are becoming so rare that that this particularly bird has begun to copy other birds song rather than sing its own. The knock on effect of this is that without their song they are unlikely to find a mate and the species, already in decline, will probably end up extinct. In the early 1960’s an American conservationist, Rachel Carson, wrote an hauntingly entitled book: The Silent Spring. In this book she warned that if we humans continued to live the way we do now one day there will be a silent spring, because the there will be no birds to sing. It turned out to be very prophetic because in the last 50 years or so we there has been a massive decline in bird population and many have become extinct or are near to extinction. This article about the Regent Honeyeater really got to me, and I think that it is not just about this particular bird, or even birds in general, but also about human life. We too seem to have forgotten our song and unless we relearn it quickly we will do irreversible damage to our planet and all other life forms. If ever we needed Holy Week salvation it is now. The cross of Christ is a very potent symbol.
But today is Holy Saturday, a day of hopeful anticipation. There is still time to relearn our song of love for this planet, for God’s Kingdom, and God is still very much around to help us relearn our song and wake up to who we truly are, and truly can be. This day says despite it all, resurrection is possible, Easter renewal can come if we open ourselves to it. This reflection began with a sense of sorrow, but as I look forward to lighting the New Easter Fires this evening, and processing the New Easter Candle into church, I am filled with hope. I am filled with hope knowing we are deeply loved and that we can learn, as a species, to share that love with the whole of creation, and together we can relearn our song. I will finish with a beautiful poem by Siegfried Sassoon.

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on – on – and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.