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Thread: The Swallows of Capistrano

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    Default The Swallows of Capistrano

    Today (October 23) is a red letter day in the world's natural history.

    THE SWALLOWS OF CAPISTRANO

    There’s a lovely little legend about these birds, the cliff swallows.

    Every year on March 18th – Time has newsreel footage of this actually happening some years ago - the swallows return to the town of San Juan Capistrano in California. Many people flock to see the sight, apparently. A song has been written about this: ‘When the Swallows return to Capistrano.’

    The previous day, the 17th, the scouts of the flock come sweeping in, then fly back out to sea. On the 18th itself, they come in clouds, to nest and breed. Then, on October 23rd, they fly up, circle the town, saying goodbye it seems, and then fly away.

    One fascinating thing is that they are reputed to fly to Capistrano from Goya in Argentina, a distance of some 7000 miles! and back again. The migration does take place – that is a fact, and the legendary bit now follows:

    The flight is mostly over water – and swallows can’t swim. They sleep on the wing, according to some accounts – but each one carries a twig in its mouth, and when fatigued, drop the twig into the water, and rest on it as it floats.

    Whether the legend be true or not, the astonishing feats of bird navigation and migration defy belief. The star of this particular show must, I think, be the Arctic tern, which flies from its northern breeding grounds in the arctic, to the Antarctic (some 19,000 km) and back again every year!

    A bit of imagination soon makes these feats quite unbelievable. Imagine flying at 500 - 2000 feet, clouds below, temperature low, not a landmark in sight, ploughing bravely on for 7000 miles in the case of the swallows, right down the western coast of the whole of South America. Finding food somehow, finding rest somehow, driven by some mysterious urge to do this marvellous thing.

    Whatever the reason for these flights, they speak in the most powerful way imaginable of the Creator’s powers. That they should do this, heading for a destination they cannot see, with terrible problems they must meet, navigating only with a heavenly guide – it can be nothing else – they do it, unflinchingly, unquestioningly, and heroically.

    And in so doing, remind us of the journeys people of God have undertaken because of their faith in the unseen and the unknowable. The birds have no choice – their instinct drives them relentlessly on, but Abraham had a choice – and he did as he was commanded.

    In many ways, we have each done the same. We have embarked on a journey in complete faith. There was no way of knowing what the end is going to be – we only have the writings of those who have gone before us. We had, and have, no idea of the difficulties before us. But like those wonderful little birds, we go – not knowing whither we go. “Whither I go, ye cannot come” said the Lord. We follow our heavenly guide to a land far away, invisible to the natural eye, but with a Captain who knows the way, and assures us of success.

    There’s no question that some of the birds die on the way. Some are blown off course, some are captured by predators. Some have not the strength for the journey. Some are sick, and some are sad – but they all go nonetheless. And yet, as the Lord says, “one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

    It is when we look carefully at what He did say, that we see the full beauty of the saying.

    Mt 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

    Lu 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

    Notice: two are sold for a farthing, FIVE are sold for two farthings.

    That should be FOUR, not five in strict mathematical terms. It’s the old ‘buy two, get one free’ deal. And yet, says the Lord, not one of them – not even the extra one that’s thrown in to sweeten the deal – is forgotten before God!

    Is that not a most wonderful statement from The Son of God? And doesn't it make our task that little bit easier if we know this? Whatever our circumstances, He cares. And the only thing that will stop us reaching the promised Land is if we should join another flock, find another Captain, or forgetting our goal, head for other destinations.

    Join with me in marvelling at these beautiful little creatures, who despite their small size, achieve such great things. Who by their faith in the unseen, discomfit the unbelievers, and may yet save some who take notice of these great facts in the natural world, from the burning.

    The Great God of heaven and earth cares for you. He loves you. He calls you to higher flights and greater things. He points us to a land far, far away, but which draws nearer with every day that passes.

    Isa.40. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
    But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

    “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”


    Apologies if I've posted this up before, but it deserves a re-visit.

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    Greetings Async, you said:

    "Whatever the reason for these flights, they speak in the most powerful way imaginable of the Creator’s powers."

    In your opinion, of course. If only you just had some evidence of this 'creator', or perhaps if the 'creator' could simply show up. On the other hand it could simply be another evidence of evolution, which certainly doesn't lack examples such as this. It is truly magnificent, awesome, I would not deny that, but does it warrant the status of "evidence of a 'creator'"?

    "Whether the legend be true or not, the astonishing feats of bird navigation and migration defy belief."


    How so? Incredible examples of evolutionary development, yes, quite amazing, but believable. To invoke a deity is to invoke another unknown in the equation. Certainly a 'God' defies belief, as there is such scant evidence, but these amazing feats of nature are becoming more common as we find and examine them.

    And of course the world is no less miraculous, so to speak, to an atheist. Just to witness, or to know of such phenomena should produce awe in anyone I would think.

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    Hi Cory

    Your last sentence is S-o-o-o-o right.

    Just to change the subject a bit, I hope this link will be of use to you. I'm just going to give it a go myself.

    http://1stholistic.com/reading/healt...d-cinnamon.htm

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    I'm sorry to say you've not been reading the news. I fault myself for not catching this the last time it came up.

    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/ar...hout_swallows/

    Apparently it has been years since the swallows have made their debut at this mission, both in spring and fall.

    Also, much has been made of the migration being mostly over water. It is my opinion that the origins of such stories are hoping to take advantage of people's ignorance of geography. If you look at this map provided by Google maps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&sour...158.027344&z=3 you can see that swallows following shore line would not add much distance to the trip with the added benefit of swallows not dropping into the ocean from exhaustion and starvation.

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    Pity about that.

    Looks as if the tourist industry has destroyed something beautiful.

    Time still has its newsreel footage, and the fact that people still go there means the story is founded in fact.

    Still, if that report is correct, I hope it does't mean the species is becoming extinct. Seen any reports about that?

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    I was never in doubt about the factual nature of the tale (except maybe the arrival on an exact religiously significant date). I agree with you that the tourists may have scared them off. I mean we're talking about a festival here, those are loud! The festival goes on, swallows or no. I know if I came for swallows it would be a huge bummer. As to the species' status, it is officially listed "Least concern"

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