A few days ago, on the way home from work, what should have taken 20 minutes took me an hour. I had become absorbed watching, and photographing, a murmuration of starlings.
Murmuration is a new word for me, but I already am in love with it. In its most simplistic meaning it is simply a flock of starlings. What could be so exciting, stirring, or moving about a flock of starlings? If you had talked to me about it a month ago I wouldn’t have been the least bit interested. But having seen one for myself, I find myself looking up to the heavens, every day now, hoping to see another murmuration.
What I saw was this: A small flock of birds flying. Then a larger flock flew by and they seamlessly merged in an aerial ballet. Then another smaller flock approached and likewise merged. Suddenly, before my eyes, I was watching hundreds of birds flying in seeming abandon, first here and then there—but all in perfect unity. Not one bird missed a turn. Not one bird could be seen breaking the formation. And the formation changed shape with each beat of the wing, from looking like an elongated dirigible to a sphere, to a seeming heart shape, and then stretching out, almost looking like a UFO. Then, gradually, small groups of birds split off in other directions until a smaller flock landed under some trees. Apparently they needed to have one last flight: they all flew in a gentle wave upwards like the shaking of a blanket to get comfortable, and then settled under the trees to stay.
I thought about this again on New Year’s Eve. I went to my congregation’s regular prayer meeting—not to be cancelled just because of the holiday. The leader, John, asked us to go in a circle to share a few words of praise and thanksgiving for the past year. As we each took turns sharing, it seemed like I was in the midst of a murmuration of praise. Each person shared—some had a few words, others more—all deeply profound as we thanked God for His wondrous care for us over the past year. After a few people shared, John would encourage us to pray in thanksgiving; then we would share again. Eventually, John really didn’t need to say anything. We thanked God, we praised God, we shared a few thoughts, and then we prayed again. Without any urging, the prayers seemed to gradually change shape and turned into intercession for our congregation, our loved ones, our nation, our world, and then the prayers ebbed and flowed back into the shape of praise. When silence fell, John asked for a song and we slowly parted for the evening.
Will join me in a murmuration of praise on my blog? Please leave a comment, not to me, but of Praise to our wonderful Savior. If you have not commented before, your words won’t appear immediately, as I approve all first time comments (this prevents major spam). But please, even if you don’t usually, let’s all of us start the year in a murmuration of praise as a testimony to those who read these pages. Join with me in giving thanks to our wonderful Lord for all He has brought us through, all His blessings, and all He yet will do!
And for a treat, here is a link to the video I filmed: