Thursday, February 20, 2014

Waiting for Woodcocks

Ah....spring!   Well, it ain't here yet but it's getting closer.   After this finger-numbing, nose hair-freezing winter, any glimpse of spring is like a, well, breath of fresh air.  

So, fresh air was on the menu today, and the boys were like uncaged little animals, running here and there and following the breeze.
Spring Fever!

Nope, no eggs yet...but soon.

Exploring the snow-flattened field of big bluestem.

We spent the past few days in Kentucky and as we made our way east, we watched clouds of snow geese circling empty croplands as they flew ever so slowly northward.   "Look at those snow geese!" I exclaimed to the boys, to which John astutely replied "How do geese make it snow?"   

While in Kentucky, we heard the first thunderstorm in months, and with it came the wood frogs, crawling out of their hiding places and looking for puddles in the woods.   The elusive hermit thrushes made gentle "clucks" as they peeked out from behind hemlock branches.  American robins fought over earthworms emerging from the saturated soils while their cousins, the bluebirds, tried to convince each other of who had the best song.   The woodcocks were arriving in the fields, where they waited for sunset in order to perform their aerobatics.

As I watched my two little boys scamper through the woods today, enjoying this brief winter reprieve, I thought about how so much of life is cyclic, filled with warm days and frigid days, periods of sunlight and periods of darkness.   Sometimes, the winters of our life feel a lot like this one has, like they will never end or we will not survive to see them end.   But, the winters always do end and with God's grace, we survive them. 

I realized that God asks no more of us than he does of the smallest creatures.The snow geese do not question their struggle as they fly north every spring, facing headwinds and blizzards.  They instinctively know how to focus on what lies beyond the struggle and somehow, this knowledge is enough to overpower any inclination they may have to surrender.   Does God give them the grace to do this?   Perhaps.   And if so, how much more grace does he make available to we humans?  We, who are made "in His image" and who He loves more than any of his other creatures?   

There is great meaning that can be found in our daily struggles if we focus on what lies beyond them and don't surrender to our sufferings.   And when I lose sight of that, God tries to remind me with flocks of snow geese moving under the stars and the return of a woodcock flying across the moonlight .   

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