This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
I hope that you will use the Comments feature to participate with me and with each other. I believe it will be enriching to us all.
Cranky is our neighborhood great blue heron, so named because his raucous and course cry always sounds like he is offering the world a persistent, loud and grouchy complaint. But he warrants my attention this evening because he also symbolizes two important qualities of character we need at this time, patience and resilience.
If you have ever had the opportunity to watch a great blue heron fish or hunt he (or she!) is the epitome of patience. He stands so perfectly still, seemingly passive, but also intently alert. An occasional cautious step here, perhaps another one a little while later. With lovely picturesque stature, he waits patiently for the opportunity to move quickly and adroitly to score a fish or other dinner morsel. If I take the time to observe him for a few minutes, his serene grace alone has a calming effect on my soul as well, and I always welcome his accompaniment on the beach.
It is so hard to be patient these days. The Covid virus drags on; the presidential election idles into an uncomfortable impasse; and the days have become shorter. The sense of a potential dark cloud hangs over us as the president broods in his besiegement. So we are all left to wait patiently as we try to capture and hold precious moments of success and promise in the interim. So maybe this is a good time to also be inspired by the way Cranky goes about his life, without the apparent appearance of anxiety in the midst of it all. OK, we’re not great blue herons, so the comparison is unfair, but I do wish for myself a greater sense of the patient equilibrium they represent, and I can at least use them for inspiration.
And maybe Cranky does not seem anxious because of his second timely quality: tenacious resilience. Cranky and variations of his species, I am led to believe, have survived since the time of the dinosaurs. When he flies over, the steady flap of his huge wings and his stretched out silhouette makes him look like he a remnant of a the age of the pterodactyls, and his guttural, other-worldly croaks remind me his species has managed to endure under what must have been many a trying era over the millennia. Yet, however they have managed to do so, he and his ancestors continue to somehow exist with a habitat over a huge part of the world. Every time I see him in the sky I feel he is bridging and ancient time past with my present world of today. Thanksgiving to you, Cranky, for being a welcome, steadfast symbol of persistence and resiliency that offers encouragement and perspective to our anxious time.
So when you see a great blue heron, take a pause or two, maybe a deep breath, and allow its great soul to enter yours as a reminder of your own patience and resilience, and be grateful.
(If you are interested in learning more about great blue herons, here is the Cornell Lab website report on them: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Blue_Heron/overview)
Blessings and peace,
P.S. We all need to remind each other repeatedly to absolutely minimize our risk of getting the Covid virus during the holidays. Be especially vigilant of protecting yourself and others as an act of respect, safety and love. It is sobering to hear more and more accounts of friends and family members who have tested positive.
PSS. I am actually looking forward to our virtual Thanksgiving visits with family and friends during this coming week. Like many of you, we will be engaged in adapting what we can, and also creating alternatives, to the family Thanksgiving traditions. For example, I will join my granddaughter, Erin, on line as we together bake my specially requested signature “grandpa’s popovers” for breakfast. And we look forward to multiple Zoom family and friend reunions as we share tempting photos of Thanksgiving fare, art and activities. So here’s to the blessings of our lives, perhaps made all the more precious because we also need to be physically apart.