Goodness, Mercy and the Canonmills Heron

I attended a funeral this morning. There seems to be an ever increasing number of these in my life – and looking at the age and condition of many of those in attendance there is going to be a lot more coming.
Such events, of course, pull one’s focus onto the shape, the arc of a life, always ending in the same unavoidable manner – regardless what fantastical stories about death not being the end are spun by preachers, funeral directors, and Nick Cave!
After the close of the service I decided to walk back through the city. I passed by old homes where I used to live, and contemplated my strong uncles and sharp tongued aunts withering and shrinking before me as they each closed in on the end. This drew on old reserves of arrogant strength as it allowed all religion to be viewed from the perspective of it being a crutch – a narrative support mechanism – for those approaching death. “Goodness and mercy all of my days and I will surely dwell in the house of the Lord.”
‘Where is the alternative brightness to the fallacy of faith” was where my thoughts were turning when I saw the Canonmills Heron standing still in the middle of the river. My heart leapt happily inside me.
Every Autumn my wife and I would see the Heron from our front room window that overlooked the river in the heart of the city. Every year we gave our salutations, expecting it never to last the winter and return. But every springtime, there it was – some years looking more poorly than others, but always there.
So many years (it feels like) have passed that I would never have thought it to still be alive – but there it was. And it was looking good, strong and sleek. Death has been cheated – and that kicks more than faith, or reason!

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