The child Jesus grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom and God’s blessings were upon him. Luke 2:40
As Mungo grew up he learned some invaluable lessons from his mother Tannoc. She belonged to the generation that still cherished the healthy and pleasant Roman practice of a daily hot bath; she taught her son to enjoy this cleanliness and he practised it to the end of his long life.
Another lesson he learned from Tannoc was the sensitivity of Celtic Christians to the wild creatures of nature. Long walks with his mother by the river and the forests were his college. He learned the names of flowers and their seasons, the feeding and mating habits of birds and beasts and how to win the confidence of the furred and feathered creatures. No one who has a loved family dog can doubt an animal’s ability to love, understand and communicate in wordless language with humans. It is not only domestic animals that have the gift, but people rarely allow a relationship of trust to develop with wild creatures. Mungo learned to understand animals, fish and birds with his heart. All through his life this gift came to light, as it does in the first story of his boyhood.
At Culross one day some robins were pecking on the ground for scraps. Village boys, as boys will, started throwing stones at them. One bird was hit and fell to the ground. The boys ran away. But Mungo ran to the fallen bird, smoothed and caressed its feathers and prayed ‘Lord Jesus Christ, in whose hands is the breath of every creature, tame or wild, give back to this bird the breath of life, that your name may be glorified.’ After a little while the bird revived and flew away. The villagers said it was a miracle. That robin flew right into Glasgow City’s coat of arms where it now proudly perches on the top of the oak tree.
Based on The Beloved St Mungo Reginald B. Hale
Many of us have missed out, in one way or another, on the ‘developmental process’. Perhaps there are areas of our lives that have not grown in wisdom, strength or sensitivity as they were meant to. We can learn from Mungo the wisdom of the long walks; we can open ourselves today to observe the breath of God in the little things we encounter. As we learn from them, we shall grow.
Help me to grow today
in understanding and sensitivity
in patience and prayerfulness