Jenny is a nature reserve warden. Passionate about her work and the marshland she patrols, she’s obsessed with a rare bird called the wicken finch – but they haven’t been seen in months and could be extinct. Her mother Helen doesn’t really believe in climate change, and is more concerned about her daughter’s life plans. She wants a legacy. Grandchildren. She dismisses the birds and pressures Jenny to change job. Jenny’s close to quitting when she finds a single finch feather. Renewed, she searches the marsh daily. During one expedition, she meets a very old thatcher, gathering reeds; he says the marsh once teemed with life. Now it’s a desert. Losing hope, she has only the feather to guide her. Helen forces Jenny to choose – family or finches. Grieving for both, distressed, Jenny runs into the marsh. She’s lost, exhausted, she nearly drowns. And then – birdcall – a flash of movement – a wicken finch! They’re alive! She weeps, she laughs. At home, Helen looks down and finds her hands full of feathers. She calls for Jenny but there is no reply. Out in the marsh, a bird clings to a reed, then flits away.
I’m primarily using Hebrews 6:19 and specifically the idea that ‘we have this hope as an anchor for the soul’. My story maps this against climate change, where hope is indeed a rare bird— fleeting, vanishingly precious, a glimmer of something sublime. As an allegory of the human tensions and traumas of climate collapse, godliness and grace are aligned with environmental stewardship, conservation and restoration. Any effort to protect the natural world, no matter how small, is an act of belief in an intangible future; for Jenny, crushed by the terror of ecosystem collapse, the finch and its feathers are glimpses of that future. Her belief in the bird gives her strength; like faith in God, the finch is an anchor for her soul. There is additional supporting material in Hebrews, as well as Psalms 9:14 ‘under his wings you will find refuge’. In this story, God is the finch: an embodiment of trust in the transcendent. Thanks to her faith, Helen comes to believe that the world and its people can survive the rising tide, much as the writer of Hebrews exhorts his audience to maintain their belief despite the risk of losing faith.