I enjoy watching and feeding birds and have come to realize we have so much to learn from them. (Which is true of all of creation – everything has a lesson to share.) I’m sure people have heard the lessons from the geese. I offer two additional ones to reflect upon.
Eagles have much to teach us. The eagle is the only bird that loves a storm. While most birds hide in the branches and leaves of trees, when the weather turns and clouds gather, the eagle gets excited. Once it finds the wind of the storm, it stops flapping and uses the pressure of the storm to soar above the clouds and glide, giving it the opportunity to rest its wings. They can do this because the eagle is the only bird with the ability to lock its wings in a fixed position which enables them to be at rest as it soars. The eagle soars until it is above the storm and rests there until the storm passes.
Reflecting on them can help us look at how we react to the storms of our lives. Do we withdraw, wait it out and hope for the best? Or do we reach to the sky, knowing we can rise above the storm, lock our wings, and rest in the heavens? A powerful saying I try to remember is: “Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell the storm how big your God is.”
An important lesson on community building is seen in the developing eggs of the meadowlark. The adult meadowlark lays four eggs, each one two hours after the last. If left to their own corner of the nest, with no physical contact with each other, the eggs would hatch just as they were laid, at two-hour intervals. If, however, the eggs move so the shells are touching one other, an amazing change takes place. By somehow reading one another’s heart rates, the developing embryos adapt to one another. The eggs laid earlier slow their heart rates, thus slowing their development. The eggs laid later speed up their heart rates so that a developmental common ground is reached. All four eggs now develop at the same rate and hatch only minutes from one another.
Within the nest of the meadowlark, there is no competition to see who comes in first or who gets the most attention or food. Instead, the effort is made by all to see that there is no ranking of order. Unfortunately, competition can sometimes invade our lives. We can quickly want the best or most for ourselves, letting others fend for themselves. While we can be grateful for what we have, we can forget to work for the betterment of others. We can try to go it alone, seeing only our view of life, or we can allow the ideas and views of others to add their piece of the truth. Rather than allowing this competitive nature to enter in, perhaps we can pool our collective “heart rates” and once again get in touch with our call to community and with our responsibility to see that no one is left behind. For this is what Jesus meant when he spoke of God’s kingdom coming to fullness. It doesn’t happen piece by piece with a ranking of first, middle and last, but only when we are all equal in helping bring God’s presence to our world.
Let’s be attentive to the lessons that we can learn from nature.