A bundle of delight.

Another picture reflection from my friend, Joyce Smith.

The  Wren is a sign to us of the joy of Creation. Thank you Joyce for sharing your Picture Tweet!

This tiny bird is often overlooked even though it has, as Joyce reminds us, a loud voice! Because they dart about, hopping from place to place, we may only become aware of them as a blur of motion. Yet, it is our most common bird. I’m told that there are about 8 million breeding pairs and you can find them everywhere in the British Isles.
Without realising it, we are rarely far from a wren.

Maybe we miss them because they aren’t flashy birds like the Robin Redbreast or the sleek blackbird or the woodpecker. Though noisy they aren’t raucous like the magpie! The wren appears unassuming and almost bashful except for its call.

Perhaps, too, the wren has learned to be elusive because history has not always been kind to it. Though in folklore, 13th century Jewish writing and among North American tribes, the wren was regarded as the king of birds which symbolized wisdom and divinity it was not always treated so.

My friend, Lynn Hurry, did a little research about the wren and discovered that Early Christians believed the wren had a pagan association and, in Ireland and on the Isle of Man, it was hunted on December 26. This was because it was said that St Stephen was betrayed to his persecutors by a noisy wren when he was hiding in the bushes. Dead or alive, a captured wren was put on top of a decorated pole and paraded round the community – the date was known as Wren Day. Live ones were stoned to death.

There are stories that even to this day on ‘Wren’s Day’ 26th Dec, a number of countries across Europe have a tradition consisting of hunting a fake wren and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Then crowds of mummers, or strawboys, celebrate the wren by dressing up in masks, straw suits, and colourful motley clothing. They form music bands and parade through towns and villages. These crowds are sometimes called wrenboys.

A rather nicer story from Ireland is that one day, all the birds gathered in a secret green valley on the south coast to discuss which one should be king. They agreed the one who could fly the highest would wear the crown. It was the eagle soared way above all the other birds – only to discover that a wren had ridden on its back and launched itself above him at the last moment!

In Wales the bird is considered sacred and in Scotland it was the Lady of Heaven’s Hen and killing it was considered extremely unlucky. Heed, therefore, that whoever tries to steal wren’s eggs or baby wrens could find their house struck by lightning and their hands shrivelled up!

Another warning comes from the poet, William Blake who in Auguries of innocence’ wrote:
He who shall hurt the little wren
shall never be belov’d  of men.

In an increasing dark world Joyce’s photo invites you to look to the natural world and discover a new delight and a new hope. God gives us glimpses of both these constantly. We just have to tune our hearts and truly open our eyes and see the signs. Often these are in little things and little creatures. It is so easy to miss what the poet, Frances Thompson, calls ‘the many splendoured  thing’.
Amongst which is most certainly  the little Wren!

[Mr G, with notes from Lynn Hurry and photo reflection from Joyce Smith]

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