The Flight of the Sparrow

Last summer I saw a baby Stellar Jay perched on my arbor, resting after trying out its wings. I looked away for an instant; when I looked back, it was gone.

It reminded me of something The Venerable Bede once said.  Bede was an Anglo-Saxon monk born in 672A.D.

In  The Ecclesiastical History of the English People he compares a person’s life to the flight of a sparrow.  Imagine sitting in a mead-hall at supper by the light of a blazing fire, while outside a winter storm rages.

A sparrow flies in one door of the hall, into the light, then darts out out another door, back into the cold dark night.  “So our lives appear for a short space,” said Bede, “but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant.”

People have many different thoughts, feelings, beliefs and explanations as to what or if anything comes before…

…or after the sparrow’s flight.

Sooner or later each of us will fly out into the night.

That seems to be the only thing everyone can agree upon.

I don’t need to know all the answers before I fly back out.

I am right here, right now, basking in the warm and beautiful light of life.

Whatever happens outside the mead-hall won’t change the way I live my life here and now.

I have work I am passionate about… I love and good friends to play with.

I care about issues in the wider world…

…and in my own little sphere.

I hope I can make some small difference…as a writer, a storyteller, a parent, a friend…

…and to leave even just a little nightlight shining…

…when my flight is done. nullAll words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more images of The One Word Photo Challenge:Storm.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo challenge: Let There Be Light.

Click here for more interpretations of Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge: Flight



  1. I love this, Naomi! I’m a bird lover and have never seen a bird so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.

    1. Hi Jill,
      I love birds too. This is a Stellar Jay, which is only found out West, as far as I know. They are beautiful birds, but I still miss the Eastern Blue Jays that I grew up watching. Thanks for your visit!

  2. megteller2 says:

    Another cracker of a post. (I notice there’s light and love in all of them.) Always adds to my appreciation of life when I read them, Naomi. Thankyou

    1. Thanks, Meg. I love your gravatar! I will think our autumn walk every time I see it. Nothing like spending a little time with you to boost my joy and appreciation of life.

  3. kirkistan says:

    Thank you for that beautiful and poignant photo essay. Your images helped focus my thoughts.

    1. Thank you so much for your visit, and for sharing your very generous response.

  4. Beautiful images and words to go along with the flights of everyday fancy.

    1. Thank you, Richard. Happy Hanukkah!

  5. Beautiful! I also accept that there is mystery before and after, and I can wait for answers to come . . . Holiday hugs to you and yours. 😉

    1. Dear Mary,
      It is always so good to hear from you! I love the way you say it. Yes, there is mystery, and just imagine how dull life would be if there weren’t a few unanswered questions to ponder. Thanks for sharing this post on FB. Hugs to you too, dear friend!

      1. Big hugs to you and yours, and very happy holidays (and regular days, too 😉

  6. So poetic and what a gorgeous bird– haven’t seen that one in the northeast- must be a west coaster.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      When I came out west, I was delighted to find Stellar Jays in my own backyard. I think they are very pretty–maybe not so pretty as Eastern Blue Jays, which I really miss (along with Cardinals). They have very distinct raucous calls, and a bold character to go with it.

  7. Mary Brugh says:

    Beautiful, Naomi.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one.

  8. t2van says:

    A beautiful post, filled with beautiful photos and thoughts. I’ve got my yule log burning on my TV (the only working “fireplace”) as my daughter fills the room with the smell of the made from scratch samosa spring rolls and my son plays sou-chef tossing the salad.

    A life filled with love, family and friends is a life well lived. I may not know what came before, or what will follow….but I do know that I am here to love.

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your passion and your light with us!

    1. Dear Terri,
      Samosa spring rolls sounds wonderful! How great to have your kids there to celebrate with–as you say, a life filled with love, family, and friends.
      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, your story, and your light!

  9. Marso says:

    I love how you describe this fleeting instant! All the more precious to see how you captured it in what looks like such a moment of unhurried repose. I don’t want to look away!! : )

    1. Thank you so much for your visit, and your kind response. I enjoyed my visit to your blog–you have a great eye!

  10. bulldog says:

    You have the most beautiful photos and make them into such great story books… I love this post…

    1. Thank you for your very kind response. It means a lot to me.

    1. Thank you for the pingback!

  11. I loved your post and which church/cathedral is that in your pics

    1. HI Dallas,
      I took that photo of my sister last month in Dinan, France at the St. Saveur Basilica. It was commissioned 1120 by Sir Ravallon le Roux, Lord of Dinan, upon his safe return from the First Crusade.
      Thank you for your visit, and for your really kind response.

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    Beautifully told Naomi. Love the pic of the man in the hat in the misty woods!

    1. Hi Roy,
      Every once in a while I see something that takes my breath away. Last summer we were in Peru, walking down a road at sunset. I turned to see the dust rising in the forest, catching the golden light, and this man silhouetted against it as he walked my way. My hands were shaking, because I was afraid I would be too late to catch the magic of that moment.
      Thank you, as always, for your kind response to my blog, Roy. I expect you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving when we do, but I hope you are well, and am wishing a Merry Christmas season.

  13. A lovely, unique take on this theme. 🙂

  14. Beautiful images and lovely words to go with them… wonderful post! 🙂

  15. micey says:

    Love the photos AND the writing along with them.

    1. Thank you so much for a very generous response. I enjoyed my visit to your blog as well.

  16. Carol says:

    I am sure you will leave a little nightlight shining – your beauty shines in many ways.

    Sent from my iPad


    1. Dear Carol,
      Thank you for making me smile. That’s twice in one day, because I loved your post on Thanksgiving!

  17. randee says:

    That was a beautiful collection of photos and words. Thank you.

  18. viveka says:

    What an amazing post – the photos and the wording, balsam for my soul. So beautiful combined. I wish I was this little beautiful blue bird …. “I am right here, right now, basking in the warm and beautiful light of life.”

    1. That is about the nicest thing you could say! Thank you so much for your visit, and your very generous response.

  19. I feel motherly towards that wee, fluff ball. He is just a baby all alone.
    Your post is divine, Naomi. Few things in life are as sure as death and taxes. My mother used to say our life is here and gone in the blink of an eye.

    1. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. I’d never seen a baby jay before, and it was very cute. And your mom was right, Tess. I guess I’d better get cracking!

  20. So glad I did not stop reading this. Life gets us running too fast sometime. This slowed me down.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      I know what you mean. So good to hear from you. Loved your November posts!

  21. niasunset says:

    Sparrow and your words impressed me dear Naomi, there is a wonderful poetical and divine touches, I feel like that… Made me happy to read this, to know you there, a beautiful heart/soul/mind… God Bless you dear, Thank you, love, nia

  22. scillagrace says:

    Another great pairing. Shafts of light in flight

  23. Sonel says:

    What a stunning post and captures Naomi! Love it and thanks for sharing. 😀

    1. Thank yo so much for the visit, and for sharing your generous response!

      1. Sonel says:

        You are very welcome Naomi. 😀 *hugs*

  24. Dorota Rahn says:

    I am speechless. YOU took my breath with poetry of words and pictures. How is it possible to have so much beauty in one person?

    1. Dear Dorota,
      You are making me blush! So good to hear from you, dear friend. Thank you for your visit, and sharing your sweet response.

  25. pattisj says:

    The little Stellar Jay is adorable! I’ll trade you an eastern Jay for it, should it return. ;). I’ll even throw in a pigeon or twelve. (We have an abundance of them.) I always enjoy the photos and word pictures you paint.

    1. Hi Patti,
      Thanks so much for the kind word! It’s always good to hear from you.

    1. Thank you for the pingback!

  26. kz says:

    beautiful photos and words… a very inspiring post. i like how you put a lot of thoughts into your posts and how they are all personal. very lovely. 🙂

    1. Hi kz,
      Thanks so much for the visit, and for sharing your very generous response. I tried not to be so personal, but it just spills over into my posts anyway, so I finally just decided to write whatever I feel like writing.

  27. There are many superstitions regarding sparrows as messengers of death. Some people say that if a solitary sparrow taps at your window or fixes an eye on you, it is telling you that someone close to you will soon die.
    Sorry, not meaning to creep you out.
    I love the baby jay.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I hadn’t heard that bit of folklore about sparrows as messengers. I knew that owls were thought to be messengers, sometimes of the Goddess, and here in the Pacific Northwest, they believe if you hear the owl call your name, it is a foretelling of your death. But I am not creeped out. I have regular conversations with the owl living in the grove of Douglas firs behind our house.
      Thanks for the visit, and for sharing that story. Now it makes perfect sense that The Venerable Bede would use the sparrow to illustrate his point, rather than, say, a baby Stellar Jay!

  28. In a long line of terrific posts, this is one of my absolute favourites!

    1. Thank you, Cathryn!

  29. 4amWriter says:

    Lovely bird. I like the mystery of what came before and what follows after because I think it helps us to live our lives the best we can. I hadn’t heard that bit by The Venerable Bede, but I would agree with his thoughts.

    1. Hi Kate,
      I think you are absolutely right. Whatever happens before or after, this time on earth is short, and we need to make the most of it.

  30. Amy says:

    That is such a beautiful interpretation for the ” Let There Be Ligh” and so very moving. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and beautiful photos, Naomi!

    1. Thank you, Amy, for your visit and for the kind word.

  31. Lovely take on the theme. I’m very partial to your photos of the Stellar Jay.

  32. It’s wonderful to have a local bird that is so easily recognizable! They are rather screechy, so it’s a birdcall that I can also recognize when I hear it. But they are lovely birds with a bold character.
    Thanks for the visit, and for sharing your response.

  33. restlessjo says:

    I am right here, right now… says it for me, Naomi, and I love your shot to illustrate it too.

    1. Thank you, Jo, for your generous comments and your always-pleasant visits! That was my favorite, an incredibly lucky shot, taken in Peru at the golden hour. I didn’t know what occasion I was saving it for, and then when I started this post, it was clearly the one.

  34. elisaruland says:

    I can always count on leaving your blog with a smile and a bucketful of inspiration. Beautiful post!

    1. Hi Elisa,
      That is so nice! Thank you for the visit, and for making my day. So good to hear from you. You were missed!

    1. Thanks so much for the pingback!

  35. Suzanne says:

    A very thoughtful and engaging post. I love the photo of the forest drenched in golden light.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you so much for the visit, and thank you for sharing your response. I think it is so interesting to see which photos appeal to different people. You picked out one of my favorite photos, which was taken last summer in Peru.

  36. Madhu says:

    What a beautiful and inspiring interpretation Naomi! I suspect the light you leave behind will be way brighter than a night light! 🙂

    1. Dear Madhu,
      That is so kind of you to say so! I so appreciate your visit, and your generous response.

  37. ShimonZ says:

    Yes, you’re so right. We live a while… and most of our concerns are trivial, and then we’re gone… and it’s the moment that was most important all along.

    1. Dear Shimon,
      I love the way you said it. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I love to hear from you.
      Best wishes,

  38. Jamie Dedes says:

    Oh, tears. So touching. So true. I hope that you will decide to share this one on Bardo. Perfect.

    Happy days, Naomi. Be well and write on …

    1. Dear Jamie,
      Thank you so much for your very generous response. I have just sent The Flight of the Sparrow to you as a draft. I’m always happy to share anything you think would be appropriate for Bardo.
      Wishing you every goodness.

  39. aschlady says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart! I look forward to following you. Thanks for following my blog 🙂

  40. frizztext says:

    hi Naomi,
    thank you for your little story around a metaphor “In The Ecclesiastical History of the English People he compares a person’s life to the flight of a sparrow…”

  41. Pat says:

    Thank you for sharing your soul. Beautifully done, Naomi.

    1. Dear Pat,
      Thanks so much for your generous response!

  42. Wonderful photos and thoughts. Thanks for joining the challenge!

  43. Suzanne says:

    What a beautiful and thoughtful post. Your photos are exceptional and the words you have put with them are profound. Thank you.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      You are so kind! Thank you for the visit, and for taking the time to share your response.

  44. what a beautiful post Naomi. Words and photos!

  45. I really adore this. Your images are so lovely – I’m in awe of the bird’s silhouette against the blue and orange sky and of the lone figure in the church looking up at the stained glass. Such wonderful images and words. Thank you for sharing.

  46. Jamie Dedes says:

    Naomi, I so loved this. Isn’t it true that we should be living our lives and not worrying about before or after. It won’t change anything an life passes us by in the meantime. Wonderful post as always. Beautiful bird.

    1. Dear Jamie, thank you so much, as always, for your encouragement!

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