Birdsong is beginning to tell of spring even though the woods outside my window is still deep under a blanket of snow. I don’t doubt the owls know this. They were hooting last night as I stepped through the dark and into my chickens’ enclosure to check for eggs and shut the door to their roost. This morning as I bent to let them out I heard a familiar sound. It took a moment to identify. An eagle circling far above calling its mate. There were other birds stirring. The cardinal has begun his spring song, varying his tune according to something I don’t know. A love song to his mate? A warning to rivals? I hear the chickadees’ sweet two-note whistle. A large flock of robins is moving through the dark branches of the ravine. They’ve come to feast on our neighbor’s crab apples—icy fruit still hanging from the limbs.
In February for the past eight years a pair of eagles sends us a signal: you may not think it, but winter is ending. We are preparing for hatchlings.
Around here eagles mate in February, and each year about this time the same pair returns to sit in a tall ash tree near our house. At least we assume it’s the same pair. On a drear, cold morning we look up from our coffee and see a large bird perched on the very top. We stare. A raven? Surely not a turkey that high! Then we see its white head. Oh. The eagle is back. She surveys the valley and fluffs her feathers. Her mate drops down and they sit together. Like us, having their daily chat. Where do they keep their nest? We aren’t far from the Minnesota River so perhaps it’s along the shore just a mile or two away. Our hearts lift to see this ritual repeated year after year. A reminder of the passing season and the many good things that come about without help from us.
I say this: “come about without help from us” because there are—what to call them? events?—things happening in our family that are not good and we wish we could help. We wish we could make smooth paths and sweet days for everyone. I lie in bed at night thinking sadly of what I might do to change things for them. There seems to be nothing of real significance. My talents lie in practical areas. I can make a pot of soup. I can bake a carrot cake and drop off a latte. I can even clean a bathroom. This is not nothing, but I wish I could heal what is wounding them and making them sad. Angry, too.
I look more broadly. God, please expand my vision. Focus on the eagles. The birdsong. The warm rays of sun falling across my desk. The four henna-colored eggs my hens lay each day now without fail. He calls me to a place of stillness and protection. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (Ps 37:7). I hear the invitation and want to go there. Believing this, still, I ask for evidence that he will do something about wicked schemes. Could I have a little, please?
In this place of waiting, like Job, I am instructed to look at creation.
The moon is full tonight. Who can help but look? In round, yellow glory, glowing like a furnace, it bursts from the dark horizon and casts shadows across the drifts. Why do we always, I mean, always without fail, say: “Look at that, would you?” It speaks to me of mystery, of God who says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Is. 30:15). All right. The moon is enough for now.
Photo Credit: Author with iPhone