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ix. Signs and Wonders - Sparrows


Old English spearwa, from Proto Germanic sparwan (cf. Old Norse spörr, Old High German sparo, German Sperling, Gothic sparwa).

Lesson Six: 2.40pm

A small class of sparrows

is perched in tennis court fence wire

and from the last upstairs schoolroom

it appears they are sitting on nothing

but the freezing panes

of a winter afternoon.

In an instant

measured by time and distance

a twitch on the thread of a moment

in a single flash they are gone

mere specks above the football field

flying on the great wheel of the day.

Jeff Guess


In the days of the tall ships, sailors would get a sparrow tattoo for crossing a sea, i.e., from the US to England. A seaman with 5,000 miles or more under his belt earned the right to a sparrow tattoo.

A sparrow for a safe journey, a sparrow for a safe return and a banner from one beak to the other, for every five thousand miles.

Sparrows can mean all or any of the following: eternity, luck, innocence. Sparrows are also known for travelling great distances, but always returning home.


‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Civilla D. Martin 1866-1948

Reading: Psalm 11: 1 In the Lord I put my trust: how then do you say to my soul: Get thee away from hence to the mountain like a sparrow? Douay-Rheims Bible

©Jeff Guess 2017

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