The Cormorant

by | May 13, 2014 | Experiencing God, Focus

I had a day with nothing to do, so I got the bike out and cycled to the next to some shops in the next town. At one point the cycle path took me alongside a river and under a bridge.

The bridge is a fairly major affair. Passing under it you hear the near constant thunder of overhead traffic. The metalwork at one end of the bridge was being sand-blasted. It stands on two massive concrete supports that disappear into the river.

One of those supports had stopped a big branch from floating on downstream. The branch had stopped other debris, forming a little platform between the concrete and the fast flowing water.

As I came out from under the bridge I slammed on the brakes and stopped, rigid, suddenly not wanting to move in case I disturbed the picture.

A beautiful black-blue cormorant sat on that soggy platform. Its tail was in the river, its beak was inches from the concrete, but its wings were spread wide – and it just stood there.

So, I did too.

I looked at my shadow. I squinted at the sky. It occurred to me that the bird, which spent so much of its life in cold rivers or sea water, was actually sunbathing!

It had found this perch where no one could reach it. It had shut out the noise of the sand-blasting and the vibrations of the traffic, and it was soaking up the sun.

I have no idea why but it came into my mind that I was watching a perfect metaphor for prayer in the modern world. We would all like time, we would all like peace, we would all like to be able to go off on some retreat and commune with God. But it so rarely happens like that.

So, sometimes we give up.

It’s not a case of one or the other, though. We don’t have to follow either of those two paths. We can follow the cormorant’s example.

Find a place, no matter how wet, no matter how untidy, but find a place of your own. Then tune out the constant noise, the endless bustle, the expectation that you should be doing something else.

Then spread your heart wide, like those beautiful wings … and just soak up The Son!

David McLaughlan copyright 2009


The Cormorant