|These birds seem to fly simply for the joy of it. It is as if they themselves are amazed that they awoke this day with the ability to fly and must use it all up by sundown before the magic spell vanishes. Shakespeare sings their praises in Act 5 of Richard III: “True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings . . .”
Swallows have been incorporated in Christian religious stories partly because of their arrival in Europe around the time of Easter. They are also symbolic because apostle stories place them at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, either trying to distract those sent to arrest him in the garden or to comfort him on the cross.
Elsewhere, its long journeys have been well-observed, and a swallow tattoo is popular amongst nautical men as the symbol of a safe return. The tradition was that a mariner had a tattoo of this fellow wanderer after sailing 5,000 nautical miles. A second swallow would be added after 10,000 nautical miles.
The longevity of swallows’ nests is well documented. Survival, with suitable annual refurbishment, for 10–15 years is regular, and one nest was reported to have been occupied for 48 years. We can all only hope to mimic their lives: Awaken each day with such enthusiasm, joy and wonder; Lay the foundation of our own lives as strong and solid as their nests; Let hope come into our lives swiftly and then maintain it for the distance as we anticipate our mind and body’s safe return.