I saw them from about a mile away. I noticed several things as soon as I caught sight of them. First, was that they were in true “V” formation. Second was how many there were in the flock. Granted, it wasn’t a big southward-heading flock; there were only about 30 geese. But mostly up until these recent days the geese have been flying more in combined family groupings of a dozen or so individuals. It’s evident that the birds are beginning to flock up.
The “V” easily cut into a strong steady northwest wind. It was amazing how steady they were given the force trying to push them around. As they flew past me, they began calling loudly and the little flock suddenly broke ranks. The strong stiff wings set. When they did flap their wings, it was evident that they weren’t trying to gain altitude; they were intentionally letting the lift slide past them so they could descend quickly. They didn’t circle or show any caution; instead, they control tumbled down and landed not altogether, but in little bunches – probably in the family groups that made up the bigger flock.
By the time my walk caught up with them I could see they were not alone. The farmer already had about twenty acres of the corn combined and the already cut portion of the field was filling up with geese in search of the kernels that were left behind.
I stood for about 15 minutes watching, as one little flock after another materialized out of the morning sky, no doubt coming off the Bay where they had spent the night. Each little flock eagerly descended into the field and joined those who had arrived earlier. I guessed there were already about 400 geese on the ground with more on the way. The honking was growing louder and more persistent as the additional voices joined the choir.
I had already prayed Morning Prayer before I headed out for my walk. But the gathering geese reminded me that it is a blessed experience to be able to pray in community. And, as St. Paul exhorts us, to pray without ceasing. So, in my heart I joined in:
Let the earth bless the Lord.
Praise and exalt him above all forever.
Mountains and hills, bless the Lord.
Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord.
You springs, bless the Lord.
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord.
You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord.
All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.
All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord.
(Excerpt from Canticle of Daniel, Morning Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours)
His Peace <><