What a lovely sight to start the day I thought, until, out of the sky flew a large black-backed gull.
And the reverie - the pigeon's and mine -was ruined.
There was no kerfuffle; the pigeon didn't stop to fight for his ground but jumped into the air's embrace and let it carry him away as the stronger intruder perfectly mastered a post-top landing, and, without a feather ruffled, claimed the desired space.
Sometimes it seems as if all over the world, in all sorts of contexts, a similar exchange is playing out - individuals, groups, organisations, regions, even whole countries struggling to claim, grab or retain what they believe is their 'space'. What conflict is not fired by competition for space and what that space means : security, resources, tradition, power, a future?
Even in our own lives, when we reflect on it, we can be space-protective: sitting in a particular chair in the staff room or pew in a church, booking the same caravan site at the holiday park, unconsciously guarding 'our patch', and rarely letting anyone into that most secret of spaces - our inner thought-life with its mixture of darkness and light, familiar and forbidden places.
It could be easy to think that stealing, coveting or protecting space motivated all human interaction - on a micro or macro scale. But that's not the whole story.
Later that same day my mate and I ambled downtown to attend a piano recital - we found our seats and smiled at a few people we knew around us before the concert quickly got underway. It soon became apparent that, while his view of the pianist and the wonder of hands doing the beautifully impossible, was unimpeded, mine was not. I spent the first movement of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto wriggling my head first to one side of the back of the woman in front's head, and then to the other side, seeing two hands flashing at one end of the keyboard and then at the other end until my neck got sore and I sat back and closed my eyes and just listened, resigning myself to the reality of our location.
But in that sometimes awkward pause between movements, when the uninitiated or very enthusiastic start to clap, my mate tapped my knee and quietly slipped to his feet, so that I could take his space. And so I did - with surprise and gratitude for his awareness and generosity. For the remainder of that magnificent composition, I sat in awe as the passion and sheer brilliance of the pianist unfolded, until the music brought tears to my eyes and I glimpsed the mystical marriage of contemplation and action.
I was blessed that evening - not just by witnessing the glory of God in the pianist fully alive, but by that simplest of gestures - the selfless sharing of space, as my mate saw my need and responded in love. He made a space for me and I got to thinking that the Loving Presence does that for us too.
Whenever we feel excluded, God welcomes us in.
Whenever things crowd in on us and we feel overwhelmed, Jesus offers us rest and refreshment.
Whenever we are wondering about the uncertainties of the future and the regrets of the past, the Holy Spirit within, reminds us to live fully in the present moment, that space in which we can meet God and ourselves, that space we too often avoid because of the challenge of intimacy it presents.
Just as God makes a space for us in all sorts of ways,
may we make space for others,
and for ourselves.