Your (perennially tardy) Monday Blessing: The Turtle Dove
My faith in turtle doves is hard to quantify. I know the sound well: a throaty, mournful, muted trumpet, that collides with the atmosphere and flares out dully into glory. The sound of it stirs something in me. But surely, “the sound of a turtle dove makes me happy” – that is not faith. Or is it?
It’s not that my faith is an expectation of the call. The turtle dove sounds off often enough, where I live, that I could reasonably expect I’ll be hearing it again soon. Climate change is already changing everything (I speak to the old timers, the ones who watch the weather, and they all confirm this), but there are still doves around, at least for the time being. But my faith is not exactly expectation. In fact, when I hear the call again – no matter how brief the gap between hearings – there’s a feeling of elated surprise, along with reassurance. The call cuts through my day: “Oh! There it is! I had forgotten!”
Yes, come to think of it, reminder is a clear portion of my faith in the turtle dove. I remember that call, when I hear it again. I heard it as a child, in the fields, in Devon and France. I heard it in Pennsylvania sometimes, walking into town. I associate the call with…with what? The specific memories are scattered and do not form a plot. Playing ball with my brothers, being out by a river, and once a swimming pool. Not much, really. But taken together, there is a sense of continuity. The turtle dove reminds me of all in life that is fragile, and all that abides, even amidst man’s stonewalling of the spirit and time’s gentle rot. Plus, it makes me happy. And that, more or less, is my faith in the turtle dove.