Here is another Interlude from An Interlude with God. Both the post for this Friday and for next week are bitter-sweet for me as they took place near a farm that is no longer in the family and I enjoyed the moments with two special people who are no longer with us. But still the experiences encapsulated special memories and I pray that they may bless you with the wonder of creation and the love of a generous, unlimited God.
… seek, and you will find …
It was dark still when we left the farm, but as we travelled the sky in the east began to lighten and colour with all the glorious shades of sunrise. The day was clear and the rolling hills of southern Natal were silhouetted against the ever brightening sky.
We left the main road and began the steady descent to the small river, still running, but gently at this time of year as winter approached. We began the arduous ascent, up beautifully maintained forest roads with breathtaking views. The whole plantation had been destroyed by fire several years ago and only now were small trees being planted to re-establish the crop of timber. Up and up we climbed until, 700m above the river bridge, we came to our viewpoint which we had found the night before. Still the sun had not risen as we tumbled from our vehicle, putting on hats and jackets as protection from the wind that already promised winter. Clutching books and binoculars, thermos, mugs and breakfast we clambered up the pile of felled logs and chose our places.
The sun peeped over the horizon, wonderful in all its colours and rose rapidly, visibly, into the clear blue sky. As it climbed above the hills its rays began to bathe the patch of natural forest below us. This is what we had come for. This moment when the sun began to warm the trees and awaken the life that snuggled in their spreading branches during the night.
Scarcely daring to move we waited. African olive pigeons, with their bright yellow beaks and legs, began to fly strongly over the forest canopy below. Striking as they were, this was not what we sought.
Then, from afar, way across the forest, we began to hear the pre-flight call of those for which we searched. And suddenly we saw them, flying from the shadows to land in the sun on the skeleton of a tree that still stood proud above the other vegetation that surrounded it. Two Cape parrots – still in the distance but clearly identifiable. Carefully we noted time and location and watched them as they soaked in the increasing warmth of the sun. Then, squawking, they flew off, quickly to be replaced by three others from a different direction.
We were content in the two hours we sat there, with our total count of five birds, but decided to move a little closer to see if we could get a better sighting. Stealthily we crept down the hillside and climbed a knoll nearer the tree where we had seen all five birds settle. Looking back at the forest from our new vantage point, we saw them. Two beautiful birds, flashing green in the sun, on a bare branch below the rim of the forest canopy, clearly visible. For three or four minutes we soaked in their beauty and then they flew, having alerted the forest to their flight by their raucous calls.
We saw no more but celebrated our find with hot coffee and home-made muffins, thoughtfully packed by our host.
Almost 100 parrots were counted that morning in our area of Natal in different pockets of forest, where other seekers had ventured. I never heard the national figure, but we marveled that there were people all over the country who cared enough to take part in this venture to tally up the number of parrots in the land.
Driving back along dusty dirt roads over brown grassland dotted with small homes I was full of wonder at the variety of creation, the scope of colour and the Imagination that was used by the Creator to produce such magnificence.
Find a moment this week to spend time in a garden, a park or some open country. Seek out some of the variety of creation – plant, animal, insect. Marvel at the colours, drink in the beauty and delight in the gift of a generous Creator, a gift that is boundless and breathtaking. Describe what you see in your journal and try to express the wonder of it all.
Thank You for the gift of creation in all its colours and variety. May I never cease to marvel at its joy and may I play my part in protecting it from harm. Amen.