I love this time of the year. I am an early riser and enjoy going to my little study on the first floor. It used to be the walk-in closet off a bedroom.

I love having Concert FM accompanying me in the background. Then as 6am approaches the classical music seamlessly and gradually fades away to be replaced by indigenous NZ birds singing. It kinda happens without you noticing...

Outside my window is a kowhai tree in full flower at this time of the year. The blossom is not yellow, it is gold. The NZ tui (bellbird) lives amongst its flowers. Let me tell you - 'bell bird' is a most suitable name!

Once or twice a year, as 6am approaches, I will hear the tui on the radio inside and then there is this delightful resonance with the tui in the kowhai tree outside. It sounds like I am hearing it in stereo...

To me it speaks of the way God guides. The music from within, in my inner and subjective world, needs to resonate with the music from the outside, in that outer and objective world. To enjoy that resonance is one of God's most gracious activities in our lives.

It is a lot like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire and that classic line: "When I run, I feel God's pleasure". The tui inside him was singing and he was so confident that there was a tui beyond that was singing too. The resonance became compelling for him.

I wonder if it is a bit like "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Because as we delight ourselves in Him, a transformation in our desires seems to take place - and His desires become our desires (and maybe even vice versa!). The resonance becomes compelling for us.

nice chatting



Christina said…
Lovely images Paul, I feel humbled for thinking evil sleepy thoughts (contemplating setting my cat on it) about the tui that woke me (not an early riser) before 6am yesterday morning. One comment however I think the tui is not a bellbird, the bellbird is a similar bird, but not the same. The tui is often confused with the bellbird (which is rarer) because they are such good mimics that they can copy the sounds of other birds.

Mark Maffey said…
The Psalmist also reflects on creation imagery, but one chapter that keeps pulling me back is Psalm 34v8, David went through many trials and tribulations (see 1 Sam 21)in this context, but he knew, was able to taste and see that the Lord was good.In order to experience God in all his fulness there needs to be some interactivity.

Psalm 34 v 8 - O Taste and See that the Lord is Good

O Taste and See that the Lord is Good
His love for you it’s undying, unending
He gave to you his Son, on a cross of wood
His peace he gives through the Spirit he’s sending
He is your comforter, your helper, he is good
His love is given freely, not on you depending
His word to you is given like heavenly food
Come he says, your heart needs mending

Blessed are you who put your trust in him
Happy, blessed are you who focus upon your God
Look to him; be radiant, with him you win
Your God hears your prayers, he is LORD
To him confess, he will take away every sin
Your life is precious; place your trust in God.

My cats Max and Min know how to interact with "Birdies" they even have their own birdy language and intonation when they see a plump tui or any other bird in the tree. Sometimes I wonder if their level of excitement in seeing a big birdy should not be matched by me, am I as excited by my God, do I have something in my vocabularly that expresses how much I love him?

Paul said…
Ahh - Christina, I must be zoologically-challenged. Thank-you!

At least the tui is a beautiful bird. After the bright colours that characterise Asian birds, native NZ birds are somewhat disappointing.

As for you and your cat. All I can say is "Beware Ecclesiastes 12:4" :)
Christina said…
Did you know that tui, used to be called the parson bird. The beautiful white tuft on their throats reminded the early settlers of clerical collars.

Paul said…
'the parson bird?'
Yes, I do remember that name.

Has it disappeared as secularization advances? Very interesting. I think I prefer 'tui' anyway.

My mind immediately goes to the idyllic setting of Marsden's Cross in the Bay of Islands. The first place in NZ where the gospel was preached... When I was a kid I remember it being a top tourist attraction, with boats going from Paihia to the beach where it sits. NOW - there is not even signage off the main road and you may well struggle (as I did) to get information on how to get to the Cross from the Information Centre in Paihia....

While I am on a roll - how about the fascinating contextual study which is the Christmas Stamp in NZ over the past three decades? I used to use this as an assignment. A fascinating study in the growth of secularisation and pluralism in NZ.

But now I am a very long way from the tui and the golden kowhai...
Heather said…
I *love* tui. One of the joys of where I live (as a now-largely-bedbound ex-tramper) are the tuis and fantails that fill our garden. Although sometimes I'm less keen when they have a 'tui convention' outside my window in the afternoon when I desperately need a rest!!

I think that there's more to the demise of 'parson bird' than secularisation, though. Lots of natives are now preferentially called by their Maori names now, I think as a move towards acknowledging the mixed heritage of our country. You no more hear of swamphens, notornises (notorni?) or blue-wattled crows (pukeko, takahe and kokako respectively) than parson birds, although fantail/stitchbird/saddleback still prevail.

Stamps may also be more complex. I mean, yes they have become more secular, but they've also become more Kiwi - pictures of our scenery at Christmastime, drawings by schoolkids etc. have replaced pictures of English-style stained glass windows.

The Brits seem to have made a more clearly secular move in their stamps - still generally arty, but more likely to feature robins and sleighs than nativities. We've done a secular and cultural shift at the same time, so I think it's harder to weight the relative importance. I gather white NZ has been pretty secular since pakeha first arrived here, whereas Britain has definitely seen an increase in secularity over the same time.


--Heather :-)
Paul said…
Yes, I take your point, Heather. The inclusion of more Maori names for things like birds is contributing to this as well. I kinda like it.

And there is a PhD in those Christmas stamps!

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