Last evening, just at sundown, I was out at the Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit, a wildlife reserve on the edge of Puget Sound. The tide was up, as was the wind, and most of the birds were ducks, pintails and mallards, who pitched and swayed in the waves. I endured about 10 minutes and turned to go home. As I approached my truck, a mature Bald Eagle came swooping over the hedge. It zipped passed me about 15 ft. away, headed for the dike and the water. It cleared the dike with about 6 inches to spare, and powered straight into the howling wind, beating almost effortlessly across the flooded bay, inches off the water. On the leeward side of the bay is a strip of beach with driftwood and other marine detritus, was a huge raft of ducks. As the raptor approached, it pitched up to about 30 ft., and the ducks lifted off en masse. An interpretive sign 20 yards from me blocked my view, but it looked for all the world like this bird of prey tangled with the wind to take a stab at supper 150 yards away.

Powers of flight are an interesting thing. Some birds are stronger fliers than others, and it has nothing to do with body mass. It has to do with genetics, body build, habits, environment and plain old exercise. Powers of the soul, however, are much more subject to volition. We choose to let someone get under our skin (yes, we really do.) We choose to be calm in the midst of a storm. We choose to respond out of our gifts rather than the offence given. Much depends on upbringing and training and environment, but mostly it’s formation—training in holiness (as St. Paul called it,) and exercise—putting time and effort into cultivating mindfulness and groundedness.


Picture credit: Paul Moore

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