There is continuing concern about our friend in hospital. He is still very ill, but it is good he has made it through the weekend, and today they hope to begin a new course of treatment. We continue to pray constantly for him - and for his wife, that she does not also succumb to infection.
One of the things that is recommended during these weeks of isolation is to learn anew to appreciate nature. It is constant in its annual sleep, renewal, flourishing and decaying, and this of course is replicated in our human cycle of life. We need to take heart from nature, her capacity for regeneration and her gift of joy and delight. This gives us hope, as we look forward to a new future beyond our present distress.
If ever I were marooned on the proverbial desert island, as in the long-running Radio 4 series, one of the recordings I would take with me, I'm sure, would be the song of a blackbird. My earliest memory of it is from when I was studying for A levels, many years ago. Often, that hot summer, I would be working in my bedroom, the window open, and high in a chestnut tree a blackbird would sing. It was a huge blessing to me, and even now, whenever I hear one in full throat, it connects me with my past as well as cheering me on.
I awake very early these mornings, and I've noticed that a blackbird begins his (it's only the male!) dawn chorus at almost precisely the same time each day. Sometimes I hear him at dusk too. He has an incredible range and variety of song. So, dear readers, I invite you to take time out and enjoy a space of just 3 minutes, while this blackbird sings for you. If you listen carefully, I think you can hear another blackbird in the distance, answering him: