DOWNTON ABBEY WATCHERS will remember Mr. Simon Bricker who in Season Five arrives as a guest of the Crawley Family. Taking a shine to Cora, Mr. Bricker invites her to view della Francesca's painting of the Nativity in the National Gallery. Here is their conversation standing before the painting of the musical angels and the Holy Family.
Bricker: Every figure shows a different kind of reverence - some eager, some contemplative, some amazed.
Bricker: You're very sharp. Umbria was full of magpies, so della Francesca chose a bird known for its chatter and made it silent in wonder.
Indeed, the magpie, which belongs to the crow family, while it is considered one of the most intelligent of all animals is a vocal bird that keeps up a long stream of raucous and querulous calls. That's a kind way of saying the magpie is a noisy bird whose vocalizations sound like argument. But della Francesca silences the bird as it contemplates the wonder of God become a little child.
Now the fun part. I'd suggest that the magpie today is technology, constantly calling us to enter its noise and argument. Google any article about the Catholic Church or Pope Francis or Barack Obama, etc. and the comments following the article immediately devolve into noisy, negative, contentious argument. Like raucous and querulous magpies.
Maybe for the remaining days of Lent we could keep della Francesca's wonder-struck magpie in view - inviting us to be more interior, more reflective, more considered, more still. Again, my friend Father John; "Where there are many words, sin cannot be avoided."