Our dwelling place...
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young--
a place near your altar, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
~ Psalm 84:3 - 4
This week I attended a friend's wedding and then took some additional days to relax. Yesterday before leaving the San Diego area, I stopped at Mission San Capistrano, made famous by the song, "When the Swallows Return to Capestrano."
The aging remains of a mission built over two hundred years ago, that fell victim to an earthquake that killed worshipers when the mission tumbled in on them, in later years, became the annual nesting habitat of swallows. So predictible, they even have a specific feast day for their return.
During an attempt to secure the ruins and to protect the structure, the nests of the swallows were removed during the process, and because the securing of the structure took a period of time, the swallows relocated themselves to neighboring bridges and structures.
For the last few years there has been several attempts to get the swallows to once again build their nests at the location. Only recently have a few of the birds returned, but they remain hopeful.
It is almost as if the birds are symbolic of us and our attempts to bring people back to the church. Even one attempt included the hanging of "plastic nests," resembling the nests the swallows build.
It had been over forty years since I last visited the structure as a youth with my sister and grandparents. I remember sitting under an awning in the garden area, just watching and listening to the birds that seemed to be so happy. In my mind, I thought it wonderful that they had found a place where they could flourish.
Like most of us, I realize that things change, and that also like many people who have grown up in or around a faith community, we often talk about our experiences and "remember when."
I'm so glad to see the efforts by those caring for the church are slowly bringing the swallows back to the Mission, but as they have learned, it takes more than just the "look of the nests" made of plastic. It takes the efforts by actual dwellers to make the return a reality.
It is the reminder to all of us that God has a place for each of us, but it takes more than us just showing up and being among "plastic" or in places that resemble God's community. It also takes us to be willing to make it our home.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.