Before we moved to the valley, Id been a city dweller, so my basic exposure to animals was pretty much limited to dogs and cats (and the occasional trophy-mouse brought in by a cat). But now, the wildlife is truly wild. We enjoy a cacophony of goose-honks, duck-quacks, crow-caws, finch-tweets, and crane-chatters passing overhead.
I'm partial to the geese. The more I
learn about them, the more there is to like. They possess innate behaviors that
embrace perseverance, teamwork, loyalty, and love for their fellow geese. These
attributes work well in the goose world, but they also make things click like
crazy in our human world.
Honk and the World Honks with You
Goose-honking is not just mindless noise but a form of encouragement from the flock to the leaders. The head goose flies at the point of the elegant, undulating flying V doing the hardest work, cutting through the air in his own sheer strength. The other birds are able to ride on the uplift created by the draft of his wings. The birds in the back of the line get the easiest ride because they benefit from the collective efforts of the others, so they honk to encourage the leaders to stay strong and keep going.
So, as I listen to the goose-to-goose honking conversations of encouragement, I think about how thankful I am to have a flock of friends who have lifted me up on their prayers and encouraged me during difficult times in my life.
Years ago, when I was dealing with cancer, I felt the updraft of the prayers of other, stronger saints. Now, thankfully, I'm able to take my turn at the front of the V, praying for others in their need. I understand what its like both at the front and at the rear of the prayer formation.
And that's one of the reasons God allows trials in our lives.
The apostle Paul understood this well when he said: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3, 4, emphasis added).
Just as the lead goose eventually gets tired and needs to drop back and let others do the heavy lifting (or flapping), there will be times for each of us to fly strong or to be helped along by others. It just makes sense to take turns doing the hard work, whether you're a goose migrating southward or a human being migrating heavenward.
Albert Schweitzer, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his principles and writings on The Reverence for Life, told the story of a flock of wild geese settling on a pond for a rest during their vigorous migration. A man caught one of the geese and clipped its wings. When the flock resumed their journey, the goose with the clipped wings tried but could not take flight. The flock flew around him, honking their encouragement, but it was of no use. So, the flock settled back on the pond and waited, and waited some more, until their fellow travelers feathers grew back. Then they continued on their way together.
This wasn't an isolated instance of goose loyalty. When one of their kind is sick or injured and drops from the flock, two other geese follow their comrade to the ground to protect it from predators and support it until it has sufficiently healed to resume the journey. Only if the injured one dies do they leave him on his own. That kind of devotion resonates deeply with me.
Any monogamous animal automatically jumps up the food chain in my book. Geese mate for life and stay side by side, whether flying high or grounded in adversity. Their commitment is so deep that if one dies, the surviving spouse often never takes a new mate to replace the one lost.
Devotion. Loyalty. Teamwork. Love.
Honk, honk, honk, honk!
Laura Z. Sowers
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