Sunday, 26 September 2010


 Matthew 10
Don't be afraid. Aren't two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground. Even the hairs on your head are counted.

At the crossroads on Holy Island there is a cafe, Massie's, an islander cafe; family-run for generations. The menu recognises the needs of the traveller; comfortable, warm, not too posh;  with hot drinks in mugs, tasty sandwiches and toasted teacakes. For the good weather, the hardened pilgrim or those with dogs there is a garden area with with a thick privet hedge on one side. In the hedge live the Massie sparrows; hundreds of them; generations of them from the palest fluffy grey of the fluttering fledglings to the striking bronze filigree of the patriarch males.

These feathered families live just as the human islanders do; out of season gathering together for warmth, finding food where they can, holding onto reserves of energy to survive the ceaseless easterly winds and salty rain. No doubt losing brothers and sisters to the unforgiving cold and the hungry raptors that marshall the grey skies. Wild, wild creatures in a wild, wild world.

Late Spring brings a changeabout, as the tides become more predictable and the bite goes out of the easterlies. The pilgrims, birdwatchers and seaside lovers chance the causeway to walk the island and visit its sacred and ecological sites. The businesses on the island follow the lengthening of the days; opening more often and longer as the sun invites the visitors to stay a little longer; a little longer.

During these times; the sparrows at the cafe are as astute as the islanders seeking their own livelihood; gathering under tables; gaining confidence to perch on spare chairs and even developing the barefaced cheek to stand on the table and watch every bite that you take. All in the knowledge that at some point, someone is going to throw them a crumb 0r toss the remains of a sandwich into the waiting crowd to laugh and take pictures of the pandemonium that ensues.

I have sat outside hundreds of cafes and always the sparrows come to gather around; but what is different here is that hardly anyone complains; no-one mentions the germs and diseases; no-one says that something should be done. Here the sparrows are the residents - living only through togetherness; only through being part of a community that understands survival; they are the ones that will still be here when we have gone home to the comfort of central heating and 24 hour supermarkets. All the visitors seem to recognise this; and give in to the charm; the cheek; the downright piracy that earns the sparrow families another day of life.

response to round robin challenge


Karen Funk Blocher said...

Wow - this was worth the wait. What a wonderful, in-depth take on the theme, with great photos and an even better narrative. Thanks for participating!

Word in the Hand said...

thanks Karen -I was getting worried when I thought I wouldn't even make it to my second entry!

Rich said...

A nice set of pictures, with a great accompanying text. really well done :)

Mari said...

Lovely entry! The pictures are exceptional, wonderful theme. I glad to see a bird feeder was set out for these little ones. I also do that here and so many different species come by. My neighbors say I am just wasting my money to feeding wold birds. I believe I am one of God's helpers to feed them :)

have a great day.

Word in the Hand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Word in the Hand said...

I don't think you can ever waste hospitality.

Barbara said...

I like how you tied the verse to an actual place, an actual time. Many things on various planes, coming from one theme, to reflect upon in this.

Word in the Hand said...

Thanks Barbara - good of you to visit.

Scrabblequeen said...

Nice photos and good reminder, too, that working together is essential for all of us.