Owls of Martin Top

The deacons and I decided to cancel our evening meeting last night, something that goes against the grain, but was a good and proper decision to make. Due to Friday’s storm, there was no power, and sitting in a cold, dark chapel would appeal to very few, even if they had braved the snow and freezing temps. Fearful that someone might still turn up, I attended for 6pm just in case. The large hill between the chapel and the main road looked pretty deadly, so I parked on the verge and walked down. Though well equipped with cloth cap, waxed jacket, stout boots and woven scarf, I carefully walked on the snow rather than the lane, which was icy. My movements were therefore pretty quiet, but the Tawney Owl I saw must have heard them a mile away.

He sat in his tree till I was but 12 or so feet away. He must have been quietly watching me, from his branch. As I approached, he silently took his leave and glided away. I heard nothing at all, just glimpsing his pale, under-wing feathers as they reflected the light of my torch. There were no sounds of flapping or rushing air, just a soundless departure.

I have since discovered that this eerie bird is traditionally associated with death and bad luck. If I had known that before, and been a superstitious fellow, I might not have been so pleased to see him as I walked down that frozen lane. Still, there might have been some mice, voles or even rabbits that night for whom the owl’s approach was indeed a bit of bad luck. The prey’s misfortune is the hunter’s supper. That owl will survive this winter because he is smart enough to be so very quiet. Says Proverbs 21:23:

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue

Keeps his soul from troubles.

And Psalm 141:3:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;

Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Image by LeonHaines from Pixabay 

A cold, dark chapel.