Collared doves can be seen just about anywhere, but often around towns and villages. They’re common visitors to gardens. But collared doves only came to the UK in the 1950s, after a rapid spread across Europe from the Middle East [RSPB]
The Eurasian Collared Dove first bred in England in the 1950’s, in Norfolk.
Because their young like to wander, they could soon be found in more widespread places. It is said that they can travel over 600km from where they were born.
One lovely fact about them is that they are monogamous. Barring accident they keep their partner for life. They also share in bringing up their young equally so they are an example of real partnership.
The Dove, of course, has a deep spiritual meaning and in Christianity is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity.
In the Old Testament, it was the Dove sent out across the waters by Noah which returned with the Olive Branch as a sign of God’s forgiveness and love.
We use the phrase ‘holding out an olive branch’ whenever we seek reconciliation between people and nations who are at loggerheads with each other.
As a result the Dove has come to be known for its gentleness but it has a reputation for being tough and often seen in places of danger and where human striving is failing. The Dove is a much loved symbol of Peace.
It is also a symbol of love, which makes the quotation, chosen by Joyce, from Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury) very apt.
For me, it is the partnership of collared doves which speak particularly of relationship and commitment and sharing together which are symbols of love.
Rowan Williams speaks of ‘truth making love possible and Love making truth bearable. Rowan always puts things beautifully but also in a way that makes us ponder the depth of meaning. So to help me work out what he is saying, I turn to the image of the little Collared Doves. They are true to each other and they are together in a relationship which feels like love to me. That is what sustains them and should sustain us.
In a world of shifting relationships between people but also nations and within nations, where truth and love seem to be trivialized and discarded, the collared doves may well remind us of the vitality of truth and love, of comittment and the joy of friendship which makes our lives so rich. We have to work at it!
Where chaos longs to reign,
Descend, O Holy Dove,
and free us all to work again
the miracles of love. Amen