The Pigeon – Purity and Impurity

For my Lenten Discipline this year, I’ve decided I’ll be reading (and blogging) about Debbie Blue’s book, Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible. 

As I said last time, I know a lot about birds. In fact, I wasn’t sure I could still learn anything about birds. But Debbie Blue surprised me when she said that a dove and a pigeon were the same bird! Pigeon comes from the French word pijon and dove is the English word for birds of the Columbidae family.

The dove is the symbol for the spirit of God that hovered over the water at creation, and brought messages of the flood receding to Noah, and announced Jesus’ parentage to John the Baptist. We tend to think of doves as the essence of purity, but in ancient civilizations the dove represented passion, jealousy, anger and sex. Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess was the patron of war, fertility and love; Astarte was the goddess of fertility, sexuality, and war; and Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation. The dove was associated with all of these goddesses.

Pigeons/doves are so plentiful, we hardly even notice them. Perhaps that is like the Holy Spirit – always around, and consequently unnoticed. As the author says, “Maybe we don’t notice because we are looking for something pure and white, but the spirit of God is more complicated than that – fuller and richer and everywhere. Perhaps we’ve read the dove wrong – it isn’t pure as the driven snow. Maybe we got hung up on purity. Maybe the Holy Spirit of God is more creative than puritan. Maybe we’ve been mistaken about what holy means.”

I know I’m going to spend a lot of time this Lent trying to notice – trying to remember to see God as creative – watching the “rats with wings” as some people call pigeons. Maybe I’ll see God there.


Consider the Birds

For my Lenten Discipline this year, I’ve decided I’ll be reading (and blogging) about Debbie Blue’s book, Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible. 

If you know me in real life, you know that many/most of my sweatshirts are adorned with pictures of birds.

From my earliest memory, my grandmother never said, “See the pretty birdie!”

No, she always said things like “I heard the white-throat sparrows this morning. It must be almost spring.” or “The mockingbird must have a nest right outside the back door because they dive-bomb the dog when she goes outside to do her business.”

By the time I was nine or ten, I could tell the difference between a white-throat sparrow and a house sparrow. I knew the papa cardinal was the bright red one while his mate and babies were drab brown with a little shade of red underlying the crest on their heads. I knew that robins like to play in the spray of the sprinkler because it softened up the ground to allow them to more easily find their breakfast of a nice fat worm. I knew the right kind of bird feeder to get to keep the squirrels out of the birdseed and to make it more difficult for the big birds to hog all the goodies.

Now that we live in a different part of the country, I’m having to learn new birds. The white-crowned sparrow and its distinctive call is new to me. While I grew up with red-headed woodpeckers, I never saw a flicker before we moved to the Pacific Northwest. The bright blue of the blue jay outside my window in the south has been replaced by the inky blue-black of the Steller’s Jay (although they still make the same raucous sound).

So this Lent, I’m embarking on a different kind of bird search. I’ll be reading Consider the Birds to find out what I can learn from birds about the Bible. From the introduction:

“Birds are everywhere in the Bible, from start to finish. God hovers over the face of the water in Genesis – the ancient rabbis suggest – like a bird. Birds gorge on the flesh of the defeated “beast” in Revelation. They are the currency of mercy – the birds of sacrifice. They bring bread to the prophets. They are food for the wanderers. Abraham has to shoo them away from his offering, and a pigeon goes with Jesus on his first visit to the temple. God is a bird who carries the Israelites on her wings – a bird under who feathers we will find refuge. Jesus compares himself to a he. He tells us to ‘consider the birds.’ I love a guy who says that.”

Lent is an old Anglo-Saxon word for Spring. Here in Washington State, the days are beginning to get longer. There are rustlings in the bushes. It’s time for me to fill my bird feeder, again. It’s also about time to drag out the hose and fill the bird bath. The rains haven’t completely finished, and there’s still the possibility of a freeze, but I’m looking every day in anticipation of the robins returning to peck around on my lawn and listening for the “see, see, pretty, pretty me” of the white-crowned sparrow.


Franke Tobey Jones Visits the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

On Wednesday, we boarded the bus at 8:30 in the morning for the trip to Skagit Valley near Mt Vernon, WA, to see the tulips. We went to RoozenGaarde.


As we came through the entrance we were greeted by crowds of people and a windmill!

DSCN0974There was a definite international feel to the crowd. If this was a Wednesday, I’m glad we didn’t try to go on a weekend.

DSCN0975Tulips of all colors, in formal and informal combinations, greeted us on all side.



Barrels of tulips, sometimes mixed with hyacinths, sometimes just variegated.



Dolores and Joe McCaffery

The McCafferys seemed to enjoy the visit to the gardens.


Beds of tulips in all kinds of configurations and mixtures of colors.


And off in the distance, fields and fields of tulips.


It was a gorgeous day with blue sky overhead and puffy, white clouds gathering over the mountains in the distance.

Ruth Daugherty

Ruth Daugherty joined me in the far-reaches of the fields.


After prowling around in the fields for a while, we returned to marvel at the various varieties in the beds near the tent where they sell bulbs.


Joan and Dick Brown

There I found Dick and Joan Brown enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the bus.


By this time my eyes were filled with beauty and my legs were weary from wandering around, so we boarded the bus to go for lunch and a ride by several more farms with fields of tulips stretching into the distance. All in all a wonderful day in the spring sunshine, enjoying the beauty of the tulips.






This photo is part of the Lenten Photo-A-Day Challenge.

Every time I drive down a street, or come around a corner, I am surprised by something NEW in bloom!

The lectionary passage that spoke especially to me today was from Psalm 32:1-2

1   Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2   Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.