Fly Away Little Bird, Fly Away

Originally published in the Osney Benefice Magazine of Feb to March 2018

It was one of those chance encounters along the road to Carterton; timed to perfection with devastating results for one participant and a feeling of regret for the other. A small bird terminated its earthy existence, passing on to brighter conditions, when it flew out of a bush into the front of my car. I was not going slowly due to a dentist appointment that I was really looking forward to.

The actual event lasted no more than half a second; the 'bonk' from the front of the car was quite loud and the demise of the little bird was confirmed by a rolling ball of feathers in the rear view mirror. Not wishing to take the life of any earthly creature a prayer was sent out for the little bird and all God's creatures that are killed on the roads at the hands of man.

Later on I began to think how a sudden, unexpected event can change everything. We may read about somebody driving to the shops never to return home again.

I owe my career in science, Culham and Rutherford Labs, etc, plus a gold plated pension to a lady who phoned the 'yard' to complain about where I had parked my SEB van; I never did finish my five year apprentiship.

While on a coach holiday at a Scarborough Hotel, a lady seated opposite  during an evening meal, proceeded to complain about everything: her room, the food and anything else going. Later she confided that her aggression came from having to look after her very difficult son that she got no help with as he was 'too difficult'. Then she talked about how, a long time ago, she visited a weird looking ‘medium’ woman whom she paid money to tell her a load of twaddle about things that would happen in her life and how, over the years, everything that she had said eventually occurred, including the difficult son. She seemed annoyed that the ‘twaddle’, every word of it, came true.

I tried to tell her that she was doing ‘good work’ with her son and lines from various hymns came into my mind: ‘O Strength and Stay’ was one of them. She explained that she had ‘no life’ as it was all devoted to looking after her very difficult son that she could get no help with.

Thinking about her ‘predictions’ that came true made me think of other instances I have read about. A young boy seeing a vision of something that occurred in his thirties and how, in that vision, there was something behind him that he did not understand. When the event did happen the thing behind him was a type of heating panel that did not exist when he was a child.

In the Bible there is mention of a man, who is going to build bigger barns to store more grain to make more money, but does not know that his Soul will be required of him that night; when you start looking the Bible is full of predictions.

The question is this: are the events of our life laid out before us but some of them have not happened yet? There is supposed to be a purpose in all things and the events of our life are to teach us: to enable us to ‘grow’, to ‘advance’, to become who we really are. If we include the ‘Laws of Karma’ some of the events in our life may be a means of putting right something that we got wrong before. I have been told that the more advanced we are the harder the lessons get; it may be the lady with the difficult son is dealing with a hard lesson; a lesson she has chosen for herself.

Some years ago I worked for a motor mechanic; just cleaning up, making the tea and often ‘holding the light’. During the eighteen months or so of working there he shouted at me most of the day. Every time I thought of giving it up something said to me ‘No, don’t do that.’ After two or three times of getting the ‘don’t give up’ I concluded it must be some sort of trial to see if I could deal with it. This was confirmed when a lady on a platform looked straight at me and stated: ‘You’re going through a test’. I admitted that I was, and she added ‘it won’t last long’ and it didn’t, as the mechanic got the idea I was ill due to mentioning something about having a stent fitted that had cured my angina. One Friday he said ‘We’ll call it a day’, and that was the end of the test. A test for what, I thought; ‘dealing with difficult people’ seemed to be the reply.

However, if things happen for a reason, what was the little bird about? It has made me think how things can suddenly change, how some things in  life are supposed to happen and others are just leading to the things that are supposed to happen; how something quite small can change the course of our lives. And that conundrum – was that small thing supposed to happen in order to change the course of our lives?

One thing leads to another. I repaired a Yamaha piano for Dr. Roger Hollinrake; in conversation it turned out he knew John Webster who had taught me the organ. In ten years he never had a break from playing the organ at St Thomas; I offered to take his place for a while so he could do a ‘world tour’ – six weeks later he was back. Later on he asked me to stand in again, which I did. Six years later an incoming priest removed the sung settings from the service and I resigned.

Knowing when to give up is useful: no point in ‘flogging a dead horse’. There may be some other task lined up for you that you don’t know about yet.


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