Monday, September 15, 2008

Wonder and Grace

Today is a good day. Lately it does not feel as if there are many, but today is different. Thinking about it, pretty much every day is really a good day. It just does not seem like it when I allow myself to be caught up in so much of the conflict that goes on working in a home for abuse/neglect young boys.

Anyway, this is about today. Fretting paying property taxes on time (due today) and not being able to find the bill I took the slacker's out. I stopped looking and took the dogs outside for a short walk. It was just moments into the walk when I began to hear a distant broken croaking and looking up and away I saw them. Too far west to clearly identify this small flock as Sandhills, the ancient, unmistakable call was enough to identify them.

Sandhill Cranes in large number near here are not that common, though the population is growing. Years ago a friend of mine, Dave, talked me into going to a federal bird sanctuary, hop the wall and watch the Sandhills during their migration. There were hundreds if not thousands of them. It was evening, the sun lowering in the sky, shadows growing long, tall lanky yet graceful birds approaching the water there like jets following their flight pattern and coming in to land. The risk of being caught was worth it. We sat in silence for what must have been an hour visually devouring something we knew we may never get the chance to see again on this scale. I may say it was worth the risk now because we weren't caught. Had we been I might feel differently. Somehow I don't think so though.

This small 'flock' of cranes I could hear and see in the distance turned all at once and changed their flight from south to east coming directly toward me. It was almost as if they could sense my excitement, joy even, of seeing so many of them together. With the dogs running around and me standing right there I feared they would break this pattern and go south again as soon as they saw us. They didn't though. Instead they stopped their calling and flew silently but for their wings against the air currents directly over heads. Their bodies dipped and bobbed, legs stretched out behind, as for just seconds they cruised right past me. Seeing them this close again filled my chest with warmth. I'm sure I just grinned ear to ear, face flushed and glowing, holding my breath in respect and thanks. Not to Sandhills themselves as much for having been part of a time and place that offered this opportunity to me again.

The rest of my day may be lousy. I have no reason to doubt that it indeed will have many moments of agitation and dread. Yet, nothing can take this moment of wonder and grace from me. It is mine forever and part of a much deeper experience from years ago. Two young idiots stealing into a federal nature preserve to watch the migration of a bird that if viewed in a certain way may just hint at millions of years ago what we refer to as dinosaurs. Ah, we were so young and silly then. Thank you David McGowan and to your wife Kelly too, where ever the two of you are, for adding to this simple experience today. I wish you well.

prayer: Let me be able to see and appreciate the simple moments of joy and forgiveness. Help me to share that with others around me.