Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Shelley Schurch
Sunday, November 26, 2023

Thanksgiving was a good day. The weather was sunny for our morning walk. And then, as we rounded the corner, heading home toward our cul-de-sac, the good day got better.

I stopped in disbelief, eyes wide at what I suddenly saw. Over a dozen pigeons swirled through the sky ahead of us, and I called out to my husband, “They’re back!”

They used to be regulars; most mornings we would see them as we headed out on our walk. I’ve always loved watching birds in flight, and these birds would make like the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron. They would perform both a high program and a low program over our street, then settle down on a neighbors’ roof – always the same roof.

But we hadn’t seen them in a couple of years, and I mourned their absence, wondering where they’d gone and why.

Now they were back, cavorting with even more energy than usual, swooping up above us, then swirling down close, over and over again.

I found myself saying, “Thank You, Lord!” over and over again. I will not debate with you whether or not God chose to send back our pigeons as a Thanksgiving surprise, but I will tell you that it seemed fitting to thank Him for their return. Our bird for the day was not a turkey, but a pigeon – make that a flock of pigeons.

After putting on their aerobatic show, the pigeons settled as they did in days of yore, on our neighbors’ roof. I took several photos, but could never get all of them at once in my lens. But the photos exist to prove that they returned, if only for that day. Because we did not see them yesterday, or today. Maybe they’ll show up tomorrow, or maybe on Christmas morning, or maybe they’re off on another two-year trip. I’ll accept their Thanksgiving appearance and performance as a gift, not demanding an encore.

Our small flock reminded me of much larger flocks we have witnessed with delight, flying home to roost at dusk. And they remind me of the wonderful phenomenon of murmuration, when a huge flock of thousands of starlings swirl through the sky, turning and twisting together as if one massive bird. If I need a jolt of joy, I Google “murmuration” and watch videos of this phenomenon, and I highly recommend this viewing to you.

As we step out into this brand-new week, with the holiday season starting to swirl and swoop around us with all its activities and expectations, may we be daily reminded that the One who sees each tiny sparrow fall is the Greatest Gift of all.