Birds of Belton

One of the main dining rooms of Belton House, Lincolnshire, is awash with huge oil paintings, grandiose furniture and expensive furnishings. The owners evidently had a liking for birds. Paintings and sculptures of them seem to be everywhere:


Some of these depictions may have been intended to whet the appetite ahead of some dish of game bird; others are more a testament to bird life’s majestic appearance, to which we must credit an intelligent creator rather than a dumb process.


Yet how much more beautiful is a real bird to the images and statues? This gilded swan is made of fine materials, but more beautiful is one covered in white feathers and which still honks.

There are many glimpses of heaven we may enjoy in this world: harmonious family life, a faithful church, magnificent scenery, powerful and meaningful worshipful music. But they are all tiny tokens, dull reflections and imperfect representations of heavenly reality. I would rather spend an hour at Leighton Moss than a day in that dining room and the true Christian will spend an eternity with Christ, not just at church. Atheists think it all a fantasy; it will be the most authentic reality we have ever known. Now that is good news.

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12