In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin

For this post I’ve selected an excerpt from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin that explores the similarities between prayer and bird watching. It’s taken from a chapter entitled, “Material for use in a Quiet Garden” and includes one of her poems, “Disclosure”.

May her words inspire us to contemplation and get us in the mood for prayer and a little bird watching of our own.


Bird watching has taught me that all is gift. I may go out hoping to see a particular bird – but it may not be in evidence. I can’t control the movement of the birds. And if I am too intent on seeing one particular bird, I may miss a lot of other things that are around. Prayer is like that:

Prayer is like watching for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be where he is likely to appear, and
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence and
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge that he’s been there,
And may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,
You have been prepared.
But sometimes, when you’ve almost
Stopped expecting it,
A flash of brightness
Gives encouragement.

So it’s all gift. The work we have to do is be prepared, in the right habitat, with the right disposition. And then we have to respond, with thanksgiving for God’s amazing love which cares even for the sparrows, endangered species that they are.

from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin, pp. 208-9
poem from Watching for the Kingfishers, p. 23

On kingfishers

I recently saw kingfisher nests in the Biesbosch on an outing with my Iona regional group, but no sightings of kingfishers, unfortunately.

The Dutch call these birds “ijsvogels” (ice birds). In France they are named after St. Martin of Tours: Martin Pêcheur (St. Martin’s fisher). I think I like the name “kingfisher” best.

Video of kingfishers building their nests

Digging deeper

– An in-depth discussion of the poem, “Disclosure”
Liturgy featuring some of Ann Lewin’s writing

See also In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew.

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