May 27: The Journey of the Egret
By the Venerable Calhoun Walpole,
Archdeacon of the Diocese of South Carolina
Listen to an audio version of this meditation at this link.
As you know, cattle egrets are long-legged birds that live in wetland regions. Their name derives from the fact that they like to ride on the backs of cows—eating insects attracted to these animals. In the absence of large animals, they appear, seemingly out of nowhere, wherever the soil is tossed and tilled.
While they are a part of our landscape here in South Carolina, the cattle egret is not indigenous to North or South America; it is actually native to the Iberian Peninsula and Africa. Apparently, the first recorded sighting of these egrets in the New World was in South America in the late nineteenth century.
The cattle egret seems to be the only animal known to have made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean without the aid of humans. It is commonly thought that these birds were carried across the ocean by gentle trade winds, or maybe even a hurricane or two.
We know hurricanes that reach our shores usually begin as little waves off the coast of West Africa. The wind blows and the heated sea churns, and before we know it, a powerful storm is born.
The wind can bring about change and propel God’s creatures to embark upon a journey—or perhaps recognize that a journey is already underway. It was pilgrims to Jerusalem upon whom the wind blew—the Pentecost wind, the very Spirit of God, moving the people of God—as a Body, the Church.
The Spirit breathes upon us and through us, moving us forward, into a God-breathed future, and open to new paths cut across freshly-plowed fields—soil-stirred—in preparation for planting and a harvest.
Egrets from across the wide ocean now make their home among us. It wasn’t just one lonesome, lost egret that made its way from the Old World to the New; it was a group, a collective gathering—a flock. Storm-tossed, yet finding one another in a new land—a strange land—once the dust settled.
So it is with Christ’s Church. Out of many peoples, languages, nations, regions—we become one in Christ—our diversity being our strength.
How is the Holy Spirit moving in your own life to bring:
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During the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, leadership of the diocese will send out regular meditations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next while as we all adjust to a new chapter of living and being the Church.