Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of swooping magpies

Nov 2, 2022 | Faith, Family

I think we’re about at the end of magpie season in Australia, but I’ve only just realised that for the first time in years I’ve gotten through spring without being swooped.

For those that aren’t familiar with this wonderful springtime event, in Australia we have these beautiful black and white birds called magpies (they are different to magpies in the US). They have a beautiful song and one of my favourite things is hearing them singing in the quiet of the day.

But every spring when they’ve got babies in their nest they can turn into diabolical creatures who dive bomb you as you walk past. That familiar sound of the “swoop” sends terror into me, even when it’s not spring because I’m so conditioned to the sound and the horror that accompanies it.

Not all magpies do this, but some do. And of those that do, some just want to give you a bit of a scare and don’t actually touch you. While others are outright vicious and attack – people can end up with injuries.

(I know right now I’m totally feeding the whole “Australia is a terrifying place” stigma – but I just want to point out that in Australia we can go camping without the fear of being attacked by a bear. Just saying!)

A few years ago we’d been enjoying a lot of bike riding as a family through the winter. The girls were about eight and six years old at the time. But winter soon turned into spring, and one day as we headed out of our driveway on our bikes, and turned down the street, we were attacked. Unbeknownst to us a magpie had taken up sentry in our street, and they’re not particularly fond of bikes.

Now, as swooping magpies goes, he was pretty tame and never got super close. But he was persistent and did not stop swooping until we’d gone around the corner. There was a bit of squealing and fast pedalling when we realised what was happening, but we got through.

Getting home was a different story. Now that we knew there was a magpie waiting for us, the dread and fear had been building. Well, for the girls and me, anyway. Thomas isn’t afraid of many things, and he’s certainly not afraid of magpies. And while I put on a brave face to encourage the girls, I’m really not a fan of being swooped.

As we turned into our street the magpie hit. Miss Z screamed and stopped, refusing to continue.

With Thomas riding beside her, Miss L pedalled hard and made it home, despite the magpie taking several swoops at her. She practically strutted around the house afterwards in a magpies-don’t-scare-me kind of way.

But Miss Z was a mess. The previous spring she’d been targeted by a particularly nasty magpie when we’d been biking near the river. Like literally, this magpie just had it in for her and she and I had been stranded until a kind gentlemen came to escort us back to our car, waving away the magpie the whole time. So she was terrified and crying, and could not bring herself to attempt the few metres home.

With Miss L safely at home, Thomas circled back for Miss Z. He persuaded her to hop on his bike with him. Then, with Miss Z under his protection, he rode home – and juggled wheeling her bike beside his at the same time (my husband is a super hero!).  They got swooped, but Zenae was well covered by Thomas and out of the way of the magpie.

I often think about that moment and how it reminds me of how Jesus looks after us. Some paths that we must travel in life are scary and include dangers, and there is no way around it. When the fear gets to us, we can either freeze and refuse to go forward. Or, we can trust Jesus to take us through.

Miss Z trusted Thomas in that moment. She felt safe in his arms, and it was the only way she was able to face going down that path. It was the only way she was going to be able to get home! Thomas took the attacks of the magpie for her while she was safely sheltered.

Are you facing a scary path? Hop on board with Jesus. Even though you may be walking the valley of the shadow of death … or the valley of the shadow of swooping magpies, you too can fear no evil, because Jesus will carry you through it.

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