She flew, weary-winged, over the endless expanse of water. Only a week before she had done the same thing and it had all been so tiring, so pointless. There had been nothing but the waters of death, as far as her eye could see. Was this just more of the same?
It hadn’t always been like that. She remembered a time before she was shut up in the boat, when the world had been lush and green, dotted with trees to roost in, and many other birds, just like herself, had flown amongst them, enjoying the gentle sunshine and abundant food. Then, one day, a strange compulsion had seized her and she had flown far to find herself in a strange valley, gathering together with every other species of creature she had ever seen. At the words of an old man they had all lined up, in their twos and their sevens, and entered the ark. She had never been inside a building before, and at first she was frightened, but these people were gentle and quiet, and she soon lost her fear. And when the strange noises began – the drumming of the rain, the creaking of the boat as it moved upon the rising waters – she was glad of the warmth and safety.
But it had been a long time now, and the world outside had changed beyond anything she could comprehend. There was no grass, no flowers, no trees, only endless water under a clear and arching sky. Once water had been a friend, a welcome drink, a place to splash and cool oneself on a hot day: now it was the enemy, the destroyer, the chaos that had overtaken a once beautiful world. Was there no respite from this watery wilderness, no hope of a new beginning?
Her wings were so tired, if she didn’t turn around now she might not have the strength to return to the safety of the Ark. Exhausted, she would fall into the darkening waters, and her small life would be spent. One last time she scanned the waters, hoping crazily for something that would prove the possibility of a new beginning. What was that dark speck? She flew closer, her energy renewed by a surge of curiosity. It was the topmost branch of an olive tree, with a few new leaves showing bravely forth. Trembling with emotions too great for her tiny heart, she perched there and rested. But it was not enough to have found herself a momentary refuge, she must bear back with herself the proof that the world was beginning to change again. She rested till sufficient strength returned, then she reached down and carefully, using her beak, sheared off a twig with a young olive leaf growing from its tip. Moving her head until the twig was securely held, she lifted her body and her wings, replenished and triumphant, bore her back towards the Ark. And the name of her burden was “Hope”.