For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
- Romans 1.21
And when they sat down to table, a bird alighted that moment on the prow of the ship, and made music sweet as an organ with its wings, beating them on the sides of the boat. And Brendan perceived that it was telling something...[and] Brendan bowed himself to the ground, and wept and cried and gave praise and thanks to God, the Creator of all things.
- Vita Brendani, Irish, 12th century, from an earlier ms.
Brendan’s encounter with that little bird came during a period of rest after he had been wracking his brain trying to figure out a particular course of action.
The bird’s wing-beating drum solo made something click in the Navigator’s mind, and he knew at once, intuitively, what he should do. God had spoken to him through the rhythms and sweet thumpings of a bird’s wing against the prow of his leather coracle. He perceived the will of God and gave praise and thanks in return.
Both of which – perceive and praise – most of us fail at with alarming consistency.
God is speaking to us through created things, the Scriptures insist (cf. Ps. 19.1-4). The heavens and all things declare His glory, manifest His character, and grant us glimpses into His good and perfect will. Unlike Brendan, however, few of us have ever learned to listen, and so we fail to perceive whatever it is God may be wanting to make known to us. Failing to perceive, we fail to praise; thus, we are little better than the pagans who, knowing that God is speaking to them in created things, nevertheless refuse to acknowledge Him, decline to give Him thanks and praise, and thus submit to a darkening of their minds, which prevents them from knowing and serving Him as they should.
But, what can we expect? After all, they’re unbelieving rebels, not in the least interested in the knowledge of God or in submitting to His will. They have their own idols to satisfy – success, happiness, prestige – and can’t be bothered with listening to any voice from God whispering delightful insights or timely words of guidance through the things He has made. As I said, what can we expect? They’re pagans.
What’s our excuse?
Psalm 111.1-3 (Manoah: “When All Your Mercies, O My God”)
Praise the Lord! O Let my heart give thanks here amid the chose race!
Your works are great, O Lord, and sought by all who know Your grace.
For Your work is full of splendor, Lord, and of majesty most pure;
Your righteousness, O glorious God, forever will endure!
Lord, help me to understand the creation, so that I might better know you. Adapted from Columbanus, Sermon I
T. M. Moore, Principal
 Plummer, pp. 59, 60.