Please listen here if you prefer to hear this read out loud

There is something about things that are airborne that are quite captivating. Natural things like birds and clouds. And us-made things like kites, hot air balloons and fireworks. The wind is in charge up there. Up there, where we have little power and can only send up voyagers in the shape of balloons and kites and flashing lights.

As a healthcare chaplain I have come to see that there is something about these things that are airborne, which seems particularly poignant at the point of death.

Some die like a hot air balloon. They have spent their life drifting on the breeze and gliding across the horizons and being magnificent and beautiful. The time has come for the fire to stop burning, and so they slowly, gently return to the earth. They can wave to their loved ones and say goodbye. The bump of the basket of death can still jar, and still is enshrouded in tears as the air and life that once filled this glorious balloon gradually ebbs away until all that remains is the outer fabric.

Some die like a kite. They are soaring and dancing in the wind. They are happily giving a colourful display and then all of a sudden something causes them to plummet to earth in an almighty crash. Kites and lives shattered that can never be mended. Other kites get caught in a whirlwind and spin out of control so fast that those who love that kite can barely recognise it for the blur and can hardly bear to watch it. All they can do is say to one another – ‘don’t let go of the string’.

Some die like a firework. Their display and time in the sky is much too short. An explosion of life which is bright and breath-taking. But then, just like that, it is gone. Leaving just smoke in the darkness where a life was meant to be.

And so in these times when death is coming to us in many forms, to folk of all ages.

And where birdsong is becoming the backdrop of our lives.

And to where the clock and the days of the week don’t dictate so much of our lives and routines.

Maybe we, who are still airborne, can live like we are.

More like a bird

In these days

I would like to be less like a robot and more like a bird

Less programmed and preset

And more like a bird

Less predictable and engineered

And more like a bird

Less manmade and manufactured

And more like a bird

Less rigid and inflexible

And more like a bird

For birds are intuitive and birds rise and rest

With the sun and the stars and their homely nest

And they plan very little and change course as they please

For birds are nature-born,



And free

And they flock together and take flight on the wind

They soar and they settle with spell binding ease

And they sing over and over

Come with me, come with me, to dance in the breeze.

4 thoughts on “Air

  1. Thank you Kate, I am finding your poems and reflections uplifting.
    In particular I love this poem about the birds. My mantra through Lockdown has been the words of Jesus ‘Look to the birds’ This poem resonates with my heart.
    May I use the poem if I record a short talk for my church family? It will go online. I will give you the credit…of course!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s