I learned something pretty cool about eagles the other day…
As I’m sure you’re well aware, every stage of life, every time of the year, every day is full of it’s own difficulties. Per the usual (especially because of these pregnancy hormones and everything being uncomfortable), I’ve recently been lacking in love in many of these moments.
After I finished confessing these failings to Fr. “T,” he asked me if I knew what an eagle does during storms. I didn’t. I was to find out and then reflect on its behavior for my penance.
Call me crazy, but I love these kinds of penances. I love learning something new and then reflecting on it’s spiritual truth. Needless to say I was excited to get started on it. Chris and I sat in the church for the next hour, waiting on Saturday evening mass to start. I pulled out my cell phone, asked the Holy Spirit for direction, and began to research my penance. Here’s what I discovered…
- Except in extreme cases (imminent danger or migration season), most birds do not fly during storms — even the species that are strong enough to do so will avoid it.
- Eagles can and do use strong winds and “updrafts” coming off of hills and mountains to help them gain altitude and set them up for a long, soaring flight to another location. This behavior of “riding the wind” saves them so much energy that they hardly have to flap their wings. Hence why there are so many pictures of eagles soaring — and they’re so much more majestic to watch in this stage as well…
So, how did I relate this to my life?
I thought about the “storms” of my life. Whether big or small, my biggest obstacle in dealing with them is often myself. I expect myself to “fly” and function the same way I would if the storm wasn’t there. Then I become upset or discouraged when I can’t. In all reality, this is the way God designed us. We weren’t made to know evil or suffering — it’s 100% logical that these storms hinder us. So my first takeaway is that I need to be kinder to myself at these times. I need to take shelter from the rain and allow myself to function differently than I do when the sun is shining. That is actually more “normal” than trying to fly in the rain.
I thought about wind. To me, the difference between a storm and wind is kind of like the difference between a major incident and a minor incident. A storm of life is something such as the unexpected death of a loved one, or the premature birth of a child, dealing with chronic illnesses, etc. The winds are the ups and downs of the day. They happen all the time (sometimes during storms, sometimes not). I found it incredibly interesting that in my not-super-extensive research, the experts mentioned the use of the winds coming off of the mountains and the hills for aid. This image left me picturing the New Jerusalem– the city on the hill. The saints claim life seems like an ongoing, uphill battle precisely for this reason: heaven is “a city on a hill.” We have to strive to make it to the top in order to get there.
So, what does that make the wind? It could seem as though the wind is spiritual warfare to hinder us on our journey… and maybe that is partially true. But since the eagle experts described it as “updrafts from the mountain” (my emphasis), wouldn’t that make these winds heavenly? Could these winds be the gift of grace from our Father in Heaven who desires to give us “good things” (Mt 7:11)? According to these same experts, the winds make the eagle’s journey easier– helping him soar for the majority of his expedition. So again, it seems logical to envision these winds as grace…
… but that still leave me with a question…
How does one “catch” the grace?
Not in the grasping sense so as to keep it, but in the intended way; the same way in which the eagle catches the updraft.
I’m not entirely sure (and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comment section below), but I guess the only way to “catch” the grace, would be to try to stay in focus with its source through constant mental prayer and the constant focus on being loving to others around us. Kinda like St. Peter needing to keep his eyes on Jesus.
Let me know what you think — leave your thoughts and insights below!
“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~Is 40:31