A few weeks ago, I was walking into Morpeth, crossing the river at the metal footbridge by the Chantry, when half-way across, I saw a woman I didn’t know, staring down at something.
‘Don’t do it!’ I said, jokingly. Well, I do talk to strangers sometimes, even if it does embarrass my children.
The woman turned, smiled, then pointed back down at the river. ‘See? It’s a kingfisher.’ And it was. There, perched on a branch, really still, down near the water, sat this tiny bird, an iridescent gleam of metallic blue, peering intently down at the water. We both looked, silently, at the creature for a minute or two. Then the woman, said, ‘I’ve got to go.’ So she left me to it, me and the kingfisher.
Then I heard footsteps. Someone else coming across, an older man. I turned, furtively whispered, ‘A kingfisher!’ He stopped too. Both of us, gazing, entranced. Then, after another minute, the bird suddenly darted away.
‘I’ve never seen one of those before,’ I said. ‘
Amazing,’ he said. And with that, we parted. Three strangers brought together by a common delight- in a beautiful little river bird.
It left me wondering. Why is it easier talking to be about kingfishers with a complete stranger, than to be talking about our deepest beliefs… about Life, the Universe, and Everything? Or about God?
I suppose talking like that could be challenging. It could sound like I’m right, you’re wrong. Why don’t you come to our group / our club / our church? That won’t go far, not in Modern Britain. We're suspicious of getting dragged into anything. Leave me alone, you self-righteous weirdo.
But just suppose, sharing our passions, our beliefs, our faith, was actually about sharing our treasures, our pleasures, those times when we’ve had those kingfisher moments that made our heart sing and the world suddenly came fresh and alive again?
If you’re a person of faith, does it give you kingfisher moments? It could be that moment in communion when you receive the bread and the wine, or share the Peace. Or for others, it could be that sunset you saw last week. Or the Northern Lights. Or that time in your life when you were just sitting, 'being there', and you suddenly felt yourself filled with the warm presence of Something good? It’s going to be different things for different people, of all faiths and beliefs.