|Pen and Ink Reflections
One ancient way of approaching spirituality, especially in the Orthodox Christian traditions, is to speak of three kinds of birdlife. The first of these, sometimes known as the ‘carnal’ life, is represented by farmyard chooks. These birds peck at the dust, clucking around, and sometimes fighting each other: confined to an enclosure, with their products used by others or being fattened up themselves for slaughter and consumption. The second, sometimes known as the ‘natural’ life, is represented by the rooster. This bird, with more intellectual capacity, is able to rise above, and see beyond, the farmyard dust; and, whilst remaining tied to it, is able to influence and manage aspects of the world of the chooks, at least to a degree. The third bird however is the eagle: who flies free, majestic, and far beyond, the limited horizons of both the chooks and the rooster. Not for nothing has the eagle thus been highly revered, across many cultural and faith traditions, not least among many First Nations peoples: being typically regarded as symbolic of great and deep strength, leadership, and vision. Now, there is of course the danger in such analogies of forms of spiritual elitism, a disregard of the ‘ordinary’, and disdain towards the material. Yet, as we hear Isaiah 40 verses 21-31 today, we are encouraged to be lifted up as ‘on eagle’s wings’. So to what kind of bird do we choose to look? What kind of life do we choose?...
I thought today we might play with the ideas of hooks and fishing; of hooking and being hooked; of catching alive and who is to be caught.
Our beautiful weaving here in church today (see image left) and photographed on the front of this week’s worship booklet reminds us that fish and fishing are woven into the story of Jesus from the beginning. Indeed, it is believed some early Christians made eucharist with bread and fish rather than bread and wine – probably not a great choice in the Australian sun and I hate to think what the COVID regulations would make of that idea! But there is no getting away from the fact that some of the first disciples of Jesus made a living from fishing.