And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them,“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13, ESV
Since I lost my Golden Retriever, Winston, a few years ago, we have remained a pet-less family. Until two wood pigeons the size of kittens found a home in our London garden. We have named them Woody and Jessie, though we can’t really tell them apart.
They often provide moments of entertainment from the kitchen window. Hanging lopsided while harvesting berries from delicate branches, they lose balance and fall to the ground as if drunk.
The sudden appearance of two giant fowl would’ve translated as foul in the past, except that they showed up at the precise moment I was reading a new book, Consider the Birds by Debbie Blue. Now, I see the pigeon as a sign of the Holy Spirit and welcome visitations with new eyes.
While we normally associate the Holy Spirit with the clean, white fragility of a dove descending, Blue tells us that the dove is in fact, a pigeon by another name. She writes, “There are lots of birds that want to avoid us, who are too wild for us, who need their space. You could call them unfriendly. Pigeons want to be close to us. There are where we are — in some of the worst places we have made (our neglected projects and abandoned buildings) and some of the best (art museums, parks, Rome’s piazzas). They won’t leave us alone.”
We don’t often treat pigeons with dignity or invite them to be near. No, we associate their close proximity, of hovering at our feet for a glance or a crumb, more as a pesky nuisance or a dirty intruder to be shooed off.
What if the spirit descends like a pigeon into our everyday ordinary lives?
Perhaps we don’t notice the Spirit invading our circumstances because we are looking for something clean, white, pristine, and obvious. And God often shows up in the messy, broken, ordinary, complicated of the mundane.
Do we put the Holy Spirit in a cage to be used like a consumer, when it suits our situation? Or do we allow for Presence to roam around the crumbs we cast off under the kitchen table? Do we make our relationship with God one of convenience when He intends for our lives to be a house of ongoing prayer?
“Maybe we get a little hung up on purity. God, after all, created LIFE (everything swarming, creeping, fruitful and multiplying). Maybe the Holy Spirit of God is more creative than puritan. Maybe we are mistaken about what holy means.”
As we enter a new week, may we be people who proclaim the good news of Jesus by welcoming the pigeons to roam around in our gardens. May we be open to translate messy interruptions as God’s presence with us, His highest intention for the moment. Let’s remember He hovers not because he is needy; because He is waiting for you to make a mistake or drop the ball, but because he longs to be near. Welcome the Holy Spirit and watch Him show up at your feet, around your table, and through the window.