A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Little Blue Dove

by Philippa Winch

by Philippa Winch

The small dove was no ordinary bird. For one thing it was blue in colour and had a yellow wing. In fact most people would never have picked it as being a dove, if it wasn’t for the red childlike printing above the bird that announced this was in fact what it was. To further emphasise the point, a red arrow had been drawn pointing to this creature.

Looks, as they say, aren’t everything and it was quite clear right from the start that this small creature had in fact a very important purpose in life. Like the doves mentioned in the Bible, it was destined to bring blessing into the lives of other people.

The one thing I didn’t know, however, was that its purpose in life would be completely different from the one that I originally thought it would fulfil when I was fist given this dove. The dove was about to play a significant role in my life. What’s more, like the dove mentioned in the story of Noah, it would be with me until the mission was complete and not a moment longer.

We are all familiar with Noah’s story, the courageous gentleman who followed God’s instructions of building an ark long before anyone had heard of sea transportation. In fact, it is possibly true that the SPCA could in fact trace its roots to Noah being its original founder. After all, Noah’s huge efforts to shelter two of every species on board the ark, was no mean feat! Interestingly there is no mention of sea sickness; the smelly issue of animal manure or even how Noah and his family coped with life now that they were promoted to being the only people in the entire world living in a floating zoo!

What we are told is that after forty days Noah opened a window and sent out a Raven. The Raven flew back and forth until the water dried up from the earth. Noah then sent out a dove to see whether the water had receded from the ground. The dove was sent out three times. The first time the dove could find no place to set its feet due to all the water. The second time the dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf as a sign of hope and the third time the dove did not return. Although I often wonder what happened to the poor old raven, the dove is the bird that most people think of when they think of Noah’s ark and from that day onwards - pictures of doves are often seen with a branch of olive leaves in their beak as a symbol of peace.Noah's Dove

Now in a time more recent, the little blue dove with the yellow wing, had been given its own responsibility of bringing peace. Cut from a piece of polar fleece, the bird had been given to me by a work colleague as a motif to be sewn on to a gift for a baby. Creating such gifts was part of our work in the community assisting others in need. The bird had been tucked into my belongings and brought back from Auckland. For the next couple of weeks, it sat on my desk as a reminder of the project that I planned to do with the youth I work with.

It was still sitting there the day I returned from hospital. The accident had happened in only a few short seconds. I had misplaced my step, fallen and broken a bone in my wrist. The news from the hospital wasn’t good. The bone had dislodged. Although my arm had been put in a plaster cast and placed in a sling, there was some chance that when I returned to hospital the following week, I would need surgery and a pin inserted. What was going to be the shortest and busiest term with the youth, now looked like it wouldn’t be going ahead at all.

With the fact that I had already had three pins inserted into my right leg after being in a car accident some years before, I didn’t relish having another pin inserted i to my left wrist. It seemed no coincidence that only the night before the news had featured a story about the amazing progress with androids – the latest creations were human looking on the outside and simply made- up of bits of metal on the inside .This now seemed to be the way of the future in more ways than one. What’s more, going through a metal detector was going to be more than a little interesting!

Taking the matter into their own hands, my two youngest sons decided that the best thing they could do was decorate my sling. Finding the little blue bird on my desk – Matthew, my youngest son, felt this was the perfect place to start. Attaching the bird with a safety pin, he put a label above the bird in red fountain pen and announced that the dove would bring peace as it watched over my arm for me. Just to make sure this bird didn’t get lonely on the job, he then drew another dove beside it that had an olive branch in its mouth. A second arrow pointed to this dove as well. To finish off the sling, both boys wrote encouraging comments and added love hearts and smiley faces.

For the following week, the little blue dove with the yellow wing became my constant companion as I wore my sling almost 24 hours a day in a bid to keep my arm as comfortable as possible.

Of course doves in the Bible are not just synonymous with peace – they are also a symbol of the Holy Spirit who brings blessing through the gifts of the Spirit.

The week had brought many of God’s blessings in to my own life through the kindness of those around me – my husband and sons had helped in a multitude of ways; cards, messages and phone calls had been received from people wishing me well; people had offered to work with the youth for me and a couple of friends had even taken the trouble of organising dinner for us.

The day of the hospital appointment soon rolled around. After checking on my progress and examining the x-rays, the Orthopaedic specialist made the decision – surgery would not be needed. The cast that I was wearing would, however, come off and be replaced by a fibreglass cast instead. I would be required to wear this for the next six weeks. The fibreglass cast, being a lot lighter, would mean that I would no longer need to wear my sling.

The little blue dove had fulfilled its purpose. In its own special way it had been a symbol of peace and God’s blessing in my life at a time when surgery was predicted. It would now be folded away attached to my sling and placed in my box of life’s treasures.

We live in a society where symbols are all around us. We only need to venture down the road to find a number of signs and symbols which help direct traffic in order to create safety upon our roads. Other symbols, such as the large golden arches of McDonalds, are recognised universally throughout the world.

The Holy Oils

The Holy Oils

The Catholic Church is also rich in symbolism.  Water, for example, is the primary symbol of baptism signifying salvation as we enter into God’s family.  Bread and wine are symbols of Eucharist as the bread is broken and we partake in this sacrament.  Oil is a symbol of confirmation. It anoints us for the mission and ministry that God has for us. Such signs and symbols are an important part of our lives. They help to shape who we are and what we do - just like we are called to be symbols of God’s love to the world.

The dove had also been a symbol, it would not be forgotten. The new fibreglass cast still had one reminder of the small creature with the yellow wing that had played its part in my life.

Missal CrossAs the nurse wound the fibreglass bandage on to my arm - the cast ironically, could only be described as one colour, “dove blue”. The dove had been a symbol of peace in a time of uncertainty. More than anything else however – it was a symbol to remind me just what can be achieved when we use the resources God gives us to bless other people.   

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