Before I left Idaho I would frequently look up and catch sight of an osprey, or from time to time and eagle, and think to myself “here’s one way I will miss Idaho. Surely I won’t be able to look up and see birds of prey in the sky above LA.”
As I became aware of this thought, I started purposefully looking to the sky to see if I might catch a glimpse of something large and majestic in flight. The more I looked, the more I saw. I looked for sentimental or even spiritual significance that could be attached to these sightings, and thought of a few. I cherished each sighting as a treasured parting sight of my home, as an encouragement from God, and as a reminder of promise.
When I drove out of Idaho, I chose to ride the first shift alone (with three of us traveling in 2 vehicles, there was always someone alone) because I was sure I’d probably get a little emotional. I thought about the goodbyes left unsaid, the relationships I’ve nurtured and the ones I’ve neglected. I chased the promise that the discomfort of change makes room for the fulfillment of God’s bigger plans. And as I drove the lonely stretch between Boise and Mountain Home I saw what I believed would be my last bird of prey.
I’ve been in California three weeks now. My birds were in Idaho, and I am not, so I stopped looking up.
For a while.
But something caught my eye not too long ago. Just as I was leaving the Santa Monica beach, I looked up, and there it was. The largest bird I had ever seen in flight (I am pretty sure I was a condor, based on the markings. I had to look it up). At first, I thought it was a small plane, but as I continued to stare, it happened: wings flapped, and I knew it was a very large bird, much closer than the distant plane I had taken it for.
Today, as part of a class requirement, I spent about three hours alone with God in silence at a beautiful convent. I spent most of the time just listening, and abiding. And I just happened to look up. Circling the convent as if simply waiting for me to notice, was a golden eagle. It circled a few times overhead and then, making a few large grand passes, it flew away.
I mention all of this only to point out that I had no expectation to see such majestic birds once I was in the middle of such a big, busy city. But my experience continues to defy expectations, and I will remember, and continue to look up.