The Brent Geese have Left.

In the last week the Brent Geese have left for Canada. Isn’t it amazing the timing in nature. These birds have been migrating since creation. How marvellous our creator is.

“Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:20-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Many centuries ago before man has cultivated the land people living along the shores of Strangford Lough would have welcomed the arrival of the geese.  Perhaps there could have been a source of food. There are many historical Christian settlements along the Lough, Greyabbey, Nendrum and Movilla.
Nowadays the Brent geese are protected.

When the Brent arrive on the Strangford Lough shores in September, they look like ducks. They have flown across the Atlantic from Northern Canada, a journey of two thousand miles. They spend the next eight months in Ireland. They feed on eel grass, which grows on the intertidal shore especially where fresh water meets the salt water of the sea. There are two such areas on the shore near where I live. I am privileged to watch the birds close up.

For the last month groups of geese gather near my home to feed. I can hear their guttural calling when they arrive. They are fattening up for their flight across the ocean. They now look like geese. They waddle from where they are feeding to the shore and float away when they are disturbed. They conserve energy at this stage only flying off when in danger. They can be approached up close to get a picture. When they do take flight they travel very fast just above the level of the water and disappear into the distance.

The name Brent means charcoal in Norse. Their feather colours are dark on the neck and wings. Their wing tips and underbelly are white. When the sun shines the light highlights the white feathers, making the birds look regal with the black and white contrast.

I thought the same geese return in the spring. The Irish Brent Research Group tells me the parents remain with the young for fifteen months before the fledglings are strong to make the long journey to feeding grounds along the shores of Ireland. They stay home with their young. This reminds me that even the birds follow the truth in the scripture,
“He gently leads those who are with young.” Isaiah 40 v 11.

“The migrating geese leaving en mass signify a powerful force in nature.” quote from Naomi Hart, artist. They know when the time is right. Perhaps there is a strong wind blowing that helps their journey north. The desire to leave and return are part of the bird’s life cycle. I am learning from the birds.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they don’t sow, neither do thy reap.”  Matthew 6 v 26.    I have learnt so much by looking at the birds.

When I travel to Toronto, Canada the flight from Dublin is seven hours. The journey home is only five hours. Why? There was a strong tail wind behind the plane helping it along. Similarly I believe the strong winds help the birds migrate.

Perhaps by looking at the birds St Brendan was inspired to make a boat to travel north into the Atlantic on a path of discovery. Swans and Geese head north into the horizon where the human naked eye can see no land. “But there must be some place out there for the birds to land,” he may have thought?

Brendan and I often go to far off nations around May and September.  Like the birds we know when it is time to fly.

Iceland the Island of Fire

 

My husband and I are in Iceland after a two hour journey from Belfast International Airport.  Brendan planned this trip back in July 2014.  It is the fulfilment of a desire I have had for ten years.  The first people we spoke to at the airport were two Irish women from Kilkenny who have been living here for twenty six years!  It was good to meet them.  History tells us that some Irish people settled in Iceland one thousand years ago.  The Irish are still here!

I was just reading from Psalm 18.  I read the following verses.

I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The sorrows of death entangled me;  But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
Then at your command, O LORD, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. (‭Psalms‬ ‭18‬:‭3-8, 15‬ NLT)

Back in May 2010 there was an eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.  It disrupted travel in Europe for many weeks.  I had been diagnosed with cancer the previous month.  My daughter had booked for us to visit her and her husband in Switzerland some time before.  We were planning to go even though I wasn’t well.   Because of the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano our flight to Switzerland was cancelled.  I was disappointed.

But I am not disappointed today.  Psalm 12 v 13 says “A hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”    My desire to come to Iceland is fulfilled.

I was reading through some brochures about Iceland after our arrival.  It is known as the land of fire.  Iceland has a high concentration of active volcanoes due to its location on the mid-Atlantic Ridge.  One volcano erupted out of the sea and created new land.  Last August another volcano
Bardarbunga, erupted with intermittent earthquakes. It continues to bubble up five months on, as the video from Sky news shows.

I am amazed when I read Psalm 18, particularly the words “The foundations of the mountain shook, the bottom of the sea could be seen, glowing coals blazed forth from him.”   David, who wrote this Psalm, prophesied two and a half thousand years ago what is happening in Iceland today.  I am reminded of my distress four years ago when the cords of death were entangling me and I called upon The Lord and he delivered me from death.   He heard my prayer and and like David of old, he answered me.  Alleluia.

My interest in visiting Iceland was inspired by Tim Severin’s book about a voyage that he travelled from Ireland, Scotland, Pharoe Islands, Iceland to Greenland.  He followed what was thought to be the path St Brendan took many centuries before.  My family visited the boat In which Tim travelled.  It is preserved in Kerry, Ireland.  It was built from wood and covered in seal skins, materials available to the early Celts.

I am happy to be here on this island of Iceland in 2015, mentioned so long ago in writings from St Brendan.

Alleluia.

Shared from Sky News: Volcano Spectacularly Erupting Five Months On http://news.sky.com/story/1409583/volcano-spectacularly-erupting-five-months-on

I want to honor the Iceland people who live in an environment that many of us could not endure.   They keep their hearts and land open to the nations who want to come and see the signs and wonders in their island; the Northern Lights, the turbulent lava in a live volcano, the glaciers and the warm geysers to mention a few.

It gives me more reason to Praise the Creator of all things.