Paying Attention to Geese

She heard and spotted them first. She always does. We were on the return portion of our customary evening walk atop Lake Waco dam, facing into a north breeze that made me anticipate upcoming brisk winter walks that will be, quite literally, breathtaking. Since my hearing has never been quite up to snuff, subtle nuances of sound often escape me, which explains why she paused and looked up toward the westerly thunderheads while I maintained rhythm of pumping arms and straining footfall. When she vanished from my periphery, I slowed and turned, and then followed her gaze skyward.

“Do you hear them?” she asked. 

“Hear who?” I replied.

“The geese.”

We aren’t “tree huggers” in a political sense, but my wife and I definitely appreciate and are drawn to the natural side of living. We own more bird feeders than pretty much anything else, and erected a deer feeder several years ago in the pasture behind our home–not to lure deer to their death, but to keep them well fed in winter. As a result, simple events that fly below the radar for most, like hummingbirds disappearing for warmer environs and the honking of geese high above or near the horizon, command our attention. When I heard what had stopped my wife in her tracks, I strained to find visual evidence of audible clues, finally detected the pulsating ribbon of geese snaking its way above black and blue mottled clouds towards the southern horizon. It was in that moment that my wife gripped my arm and jerked me to attention. Starboard of the skein of geese, a Bald Eagle came into focus almost directly overhead. We have enjoyed rare sightings of eagles on the periphery of Lake Waco before, so we had no problem identifying the proud raptor. I attempted to capture the image with my iPhone, but vision was rendered useless by the blinding sun. Had it not been for geese we would not have seen the eagle.

Geese brandish their own strain of beauty, but they aren’t exactly exotic creatures. In fact, we have friends living on Lake Athens that loathe them because of their propensity to blanket a lawn with poop. Pre-winter geese sorties are pleasant to behold, but never catch one by surprise. They are somewhat expected, even taken for granted, until winging it next to eagles. Thank God for the ordinary events and individuals that bring the larger picture into focus. I better detect what God is up to when I see him in juxtaposition to my grandchildren, the cashier that annoys me, the colleague with cancer, the relative that talks non-stop out of loneliness, the friend agonizing over a prodigal child, a church that’s lost its way. The ordinary yields glimpses of glory when I pay attention.

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