Sometimes it just takes simple things to light up our lives. Simple things which turn monotones into rainbows, give hope in a dull time in our day or sing praise to the Creator God who uses them to bless us in unexpected ways. This simple event in a grey place lit up my day. May reading about it do the same for you in a special way too.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26
We had walked around the ancient city, admiring the buildings and the statue that proudly surveyed the central square. We had spent time in the small, exquisite cathedral where they were exposing and restoring the original roof timbers and where the windows gleamed like jewels in the sunshine and cast rainbows onto the worn flagstone floors.
So when my friend dropped me at the station to catch a train to another part of the country, the stark modernity of the place was a staggering contrast. There was nothing beautiful about the buildings, or long platforms or metal tracks. The usual notices adorned the walls – timetables and adverts; people stood around, patiently waiting for their train to arrive and carry them off to their destinations. In spite of the sunshine it was a grey world, with little to please the eye.
As I sought space on the well-used benches, a flash of bright colour caught my eye. Curious I began to stroll in its direction towards one end of the platform. I knew that I had to board my train in that section anyway and I could see an empty bench. The flash of colour had disappeared, but as I neared the end of the platform I could see the ground dropped steeply away – and caught my breath in amazement.
For there, below the level of the platform because of the slope of the land, was a well-supplied bird table – a hive of excited activity! Thrushes, a blackbird with its bright beak, sparrows and a beautiful English robin were busy at various feeding points. There were seeds, and fat, and fruit, and each diner had their own space to eat their fill, or take a precious beakful back to their hungry young.
It was evident that someone loved and cared for these birds. There were bowls of water to slake their thirst, and a shallow pool where they washed the dust off their feathers. Perhaps it was that same person who had compiled the list of the birds that frequented the table, together with their photos. It hung nearby so identification was easy.
How many people, I wondered, had had their interest in birds sparked by this small table in this utilitarian place? For fifteen minutes, as I waited for my train, I sat and watched the procession. Some diners were obviously nesting nearby for I followed their flight path into nearby trees or bushes and then saw them return. Others visited briefly and I only saw them once. As I watched I said a silent prayer to the Father, not only praising Him for the beauty of His creation, but also giving thanks for the one who had, by their gift of a place for birds to come, made beautiful an otherwise grey space. Here was love, indeed, for creatures, for humanity and for God. And I suddenly had a fleeting sense of the love God has for us as He cares for us in such a bountiful way.
It was just one of many stations I have used over the years, but it will always be special to me as I think of the joy that small, colourful space brought to me – and I am thankful.