The Kingfisher

A small chalk-stream, narrowed by overgrowths of watercress, flows unsteadily between two fields.         In the spring air, a sparkle, a tiny firework – almost missed – skimming low: the kingfisher.

Eye is not deceived though mind says: surely kingfishers are large as thrushes?  But this is as small as a sparrow; as vivid as any spark exploding from a burning log, and indescribably blue.

If I lived in the white cottage beside the stream, I should find myself drawn irresistibly to the window, all day, in the hope … and yet, knowing that the urgency of wanting was not enough.

Something becomes possible in Lent: this waiting, and breath-held longing, is shaken out of focus.   Words on the page become suspended, untranslatable; space between time opens up for us. Through music, beyond stillness, the intention of Lent leads us imperceptibly closer to God. . .

But … like the kingfisher, the moment of transfixing brightness comes without warning:  we can only wait:  accepting that we cannot cause this through the power of will, nor the insistence of desire, but only, paradoxically, through the suspension of will.

And the meaning, as it will always be, lies in the waiting…


3 thoughts on “The Kingfisher

  1. I had the privilege of living by a chalk stream in Dorset, watching and waiting, and then being ‘surprised by joy’. As Phoebe Hesketh says in her poem ‘Kingfisher’ – “The image blazes on.”

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