Have you ever wondered, when you see geese flying in V formation, why they do so? It is because there is a leader at the apex of the V, who not only has the wisdom of experience to direct the flock to their destination; but also, the power of her wings that creates an uplift of supporting air. In its wake the rest of the birds fly a little more easily and with security and trust. And as they fly, the leading bird sends out encouragement by continuous honking, lest the weaker ones even think of giving up.
I have known the authors, Kathi Bentall and Margaret McAvity a long time. To count them as friends is a blessing, as we have journeyed together in the fellowship of Christ. Silence is the first language of God. And through these many years I have watched with admiration as they’ve organized silent retreats at Rivendell, and I think how many souls, like the birds, have learned to speak to God in silence, in the wake of the flight path these two women have created. It is said, ’the good that men do is oft interred with their bones,’ but the authors deny that eventuality because they have distilled the essence of their learning by writing a book, about silence and sacred gatherings - Wings of the Wild Bird, ensuring that their wisdom and knowledge will live on into the future. It is full of gems waiting to be discovered, and to borrow an apt description from their book, (p 6) it is like Margaret’s Magic Cupboard to which one can go to again and again and find answers when designing sacred gatherings
Before we accept a message, we want to know who the messenger is. The authors talk to you, not from the vantage point of the informed informing the uninformed, but by sharing their stories and vulnerabilities, of sadness and loss. They tell of their experiences with deep humility and it takes one to an entirely different realm of understanding with surprises and wonderful insights. In the inimitable words that Monica Brown put to song; we are "but earthen vessels, fragile and easily broken, yet hold a treasure a wealth untold," and expectantly waiting and wanting to be shaped by God.
Vignettes in Chapter 6 are perhaps the most poignant part of this book because it is ‘by your fruits you shall know them.’
There are many things I have learned from their wisdom, foremost being the concept of emergent design to avoid the temptation to try and pre-design a gathering; that a group will develop its own dynamics and will shape its own course. It is like a river that flows through its path, ostensibly constrained by the contours of geography, but those contours themselves are also shaped by the force of the river.