It was dusk as I stood mesmerized at the kitchen window earlier this month. What was that black shadow moving against the horizon in constantly shifting shapes? It has to be a large flock of birds, I thought, though as a born-and-raised Oregonian I had never seen this phenomenon before. The fluttering dark specks looked like a school of fish repeatedly turning in swift synchronicity, as if swimming in the sky.
Later I learned that these were starlings. A flock of starlings is called a Murmuration and also refers to the beautiful group formations they fly before settling down for the evening.
For a long time I watched the flock’s choreography against the darkening horizon. To me, their joyful dance affirmed once again how nature expresses the infinite, glorious creativity of God. Be sure to click on the window expansion icon when you watch the one-minute video above. This footage provides a beautiful example of how these birds fly together, creating a work of living, breathing art against the twilight sky.
Psalm 19:1-4 says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands [as do the birds flying there]. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.