by Martha Shepherd.
We have formed a new communal habit this fall. 6:30 A.M. finds us, coffee cups in hand, walking between our back and front yards, looking up. The geese are flying overhead.
Some mornings there are more than others, but every morning hundreds of them fly by.
Flock after flock fly overhead around sunrise and again at sunset, sometimes so low we can hear the whir of their wings, sometimes high up and calling to each other. You can actually see light glinting off their white breasts and under their wings, because at this point they appear higher than the sun.
It is a great way to start the day in a poustinia house. Whether you think of it as the geese calling us to prayer or praying for us, they definitely point us in the right direction.
They are a living illustration of the line, I will awake the dawn in Psalm 57. They are a daily cry "Arise!" And they are an excellent example of all those virtues like cooperation, focus, purposeful living, and passion, that the day will demand of us.
We do our best to live up to the geese. And I am daily grateful for the way they never fail to stir a response in me. They are a great spiritual help.
We have this blessing because we live about a fifteen minute walk from the Ottawa River, which is their rest stop.
One evening we went down there, as we often do, to pray our evening rosary and watch the geese take off at sunset.
We were sitting on a bench praying when two Muslim couples walked by chatting and laughing together. The women sat down on the bench just past us, while the men walked up the slight hill, put down their mats, and began to say their sunset prayers.
They finished about the time we did and returned to their wives, the couples going on while we walked back.
A little later we passed an Orthodox Jewish family down by the water’s edge, the father reading from a prayer book. And all along, flock after flock of geese mobilized with great stirs of honking and calling, then suddenly taking off and flying over us.
It struck me at the time as such a beautiful image. There we were, representatives of the three monotheistic religions, all answering a call to look homewards, home to the Father, just as the geese were answering their instinctual call to fly forth, onwards, outwards.
St Augustine said it centuries ago, and the geese say it each time they fly by: "To seek God is the greatest adventure."
If you enjoy our articles, we ask you to please consider subscribing to the print edition of Restoration; it's only $10 a year, and will help us stay in print. Thanks, and God bless you!