One of my favourite places to go birdwatching is a park nestled among steel mills and scrapyards. Nearby, the highway roars past, often carrying bumper-to-bumper traffic. This is the grittiest part of the city, with air that hangs heavy with the stench of pollution.

In previous years, the creek running through this park made the news due to high bacterial levels, raw sewage leaks, and industrial contaminants. And yet, the area is a bird sanctuary. A diamond in the rough. A place where nature thrives despite man’s unintentional efforts to choke it out.

This morning, the birds were here in droves: herons, black-backed gulls, northern shovellers, hooded mergansers, cormorants, coots, and more. Among factories and piles of twisted metal, they find trees and wild grasses, slow-moving water, shelter, nourishment, rest.

There’s a lesson here. A metaphor. For so many, the past few years have been nothing but ugly, nothing but hard. But there is beauty in the ugly, peace in hard places.

There is nourishment, sanctuary, rest.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2,3)

As we head into this next year, let’s hold onto this promise of beauty and peace.

Not just for some far off day when the grittiness of earth fades.

But here. Now.



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