Yesterday I had my usual late afternoon/early evening walk. There are several local routes that I can take and this time I chose to go to the local common though common is something of a misnomer as it is a largely wooded area of about 400 acres with paths and tracks that wind through it as well as a couple of fairly substantial ponds. When I set out the clouds were gathering and by the time I got to the wood the sky was dark and the rain started. The weather echoed my mood. Evil is spreading apparently unchecked throughout the world at the moment, and the latest announcements in England advising pregnant women to get pecked and speculating that university students may not be allowed to lectures next term unless they too have been pecked are too extraordinary to need comment. The latter struck me with particular force as my daughter is about to start her second year at university. What is equally extraordinary is that most people seem quite happy to go along with this. To me it really does show that when you reject God you are easy prey for demonic influence.
So, my mood was sombre. The rain came down and, though the tree cover meant I only got slightly wet, I was still feeling rather damp inside because of the current state of the world. Then a small bird darted across the path and settled on a branch just a few yards from me. As I approached he didn't fly away and I saw that he was a robin. I went nearer and still he stayed on his branch. I thought to myself how fine it would be to be one of those saints like Francis who can talk to the birds because they sense the saint's holiness and have no fear of him at all. I tried a few words. The robin looked at me. I spoke some more. He flew off. Oh well.
I continued my walk through the woods and spoke to God as follows. "I know we should not ask for signs and I know you have given me many graces during the course of my life, many more than I deserve. But the world is in a truly dark place now and there seems to be hardly anyone standing up for truth and goodness. Can you give me a little indication that those of us who are holding out against the current evils are on the right track?" Goodness know what I was expecting. Maybe for the robin to come back and sit on my hand but that didn't happen. In fact, nothing happened so on I walked and within a few minutes came out of the wood and joined the road that led back to town. See the picture below. Just at that moment the sun came back out and the clouds began to clear. That was encouraging but could easily have been coincidence. I was slightly hoping for a rainbow but that would have too much to ask and almost vulgar in its ostentation so I continued on my way. Then I had a sudden impulse to look to my right. There was a road sign just by my side. I was on Christ Church Road. That was good enough for me.