Norway, along with many European countries, has a long history of Church Asylum (sanctuary), known here as kirkeasyl.
Even today there are many people living in church buildings, often for years at a time, hoping and praying to avoid being deported back to dangerous or even life-threatening homelands. Despite this form of ‘imprisonment’ (they cannot go outside and are entirely dependent on others to provide everything they need – no state support), they regard it as better than the fate which awaits them back ‘home’.
A couple of days ago word seemed to have spread to our local wildlife population that church is a safe place for them too. We do have a priest in the area who is a big fan of St Francis of Assisi, so perhaps he’s been out preaching?. Anyway, a pair of seagulls gently shepherded their pair of chicks to just outside our offices at Finnsnes church. This was a noisy, time-consuming process, as they called continuously to one another, and the chicks seemed more interested in sleeping than walking. Having eventually got the chicks to a place of safety (the windowsill of the staff kitchen), the adults took up watch positions on a nearby lamppost and the church roof, from where they could ‘dive bomb’ anyone who came close to the chicks. Good for the babies, not so good for humans.
On the upside, we’ve got front row child-rearing seats, whilst we eat our sandwiches.
Pictures taken from my office, as they passed on their way to the kitchen – they’re well camouflaged!