Yesterday we visited RSPB Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve in North Norfolk. We saw and identified small birds in the woods, wading birds in the creeks, ducks on the lakes, seabirds on the sea-shore. My favourites were the Marsh Harriers that gave a fine flying display.
We returned to the café for refreshment. There was this ‘hygiene station’. I smiled. I remembered – they didn’t have birdfeeders they had ‘feeding stations’. Perhaps they didn’t have bird-hides but bird-watch stations.
‘Station’ comes from the Latin – ‘stare’ means ‘to stand’… ‘stationem’ is ‘a standing’… Station has come to mean a regular stopping or standing place… so you’re stationary at a station.
There’s been lots on the news about stations… empty train stations as rail workers are on strike… causing trains to stand for longer periods of time… stationary at the station.
We have stations for buses, fire engines, lifeboats or ambulances… where vehicles are stationary. We have petrol stations where people and vehicles pause to refuel…
Some years ago I was introduced to the idea of ‘Stations of the Cross’. For many centuries Christians have created a series of images, sculptures – ‘stations’ – that describe the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion.
On a pilgrimage, in a church, folk engage with the path of suffering walked by Jesus. They pause for prayer and meditation at various points… stationary at each station.
Yesterday was ‘Epiphany’. Esther, our town chaplain, reminded us: ‘It’s the day that celebrates the Eastern Astronomers (Magi) finally making it to see the birth of God-with-us in the person of Jesus.’
After puzzling where they should be going, following the star, searching, travelling… much activity… they stopped, stationary at a station… to see a young child.
Esther concludes: Are we journeying for deeper connection & purpose, to find God-with-us, as these ancient intellectual travellers were? What would it look like to pause in front of Jesus, and …take a moment to ponder truth and life?
Esther’s encouraging us to be stationary at a station.