As I think about what to write, something heavy flies into my window. A small bird or a very large insect. I can’t turn my head fast enough so there is just a dark shape falling away from the corner of my eye.
And I remember a time when I was little and an owl had flown into the window at the church centre and left a perfect imprint of itself behind on the glass. I found out later that this isn’t such an unusual occurrence, but at the time it might as well have been the Turin Shroud.
The church centre was/is the building next door to the church where the kids attend Sunday School and the adults drink coffee after the service. Sunday School is church-lite where you get an accessible version of the bible stories and sing songs and do crafts before nipping into the last ten minutes of the actual service to get a quick blessing and wave to your mum. Sunday School is called Messy Church now, which says something (though I’m not sure what) about the changing times.
The morning of the owl incident, the Sunday School leader skipped part of the usual proceedings so we could spend time marvelling at the ghostly outline, complete with feather-detailing and (I swear!) a shocked expression. The leader explained that they didn’t know what had happened to the owl itself, but they thought it was probably alright. They didn’t say anything hokey about it being under god’s care or anything – I don’t remember Sunday School being very spiritual at all – but the owl window felt special. It felt more wondrous and important that any of the more colourful windows in the ornate building next door.
The adults looked at it too, when they came in for coffee. I expect we all pulled our parents over to see it, so they could marvel with us at the intricacy of the impression, the wonder of nature abruptly meeting man.
A version of this post was sent by email on the 7th March 2020 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.