Hope is Stirring at the Edges

Skagit Flats Snow Geese

“Spring seems far off, impossible, but it is coming. Already there is dusk instead of darkness at five in the afternoon; already hope is stirring at the edges of the day.”
Kathleen Norris in Dakota: A Spiritual Biography

For the last several days, whenever I am outside in the barnyard wheelbarrowing loads of manure, or carrying buckets of water, I’ll hear the approaching honking crescendo of snow geese coming from the north. I stop whatever I am doing to watch the sky. The geese fly in precise V formation as they head from northeast of here, the Frasier River Valley in British Columbia, southwest to the Skagit Valley flats some forty miles away where thousands of them will glean leftovers from harvested farm fields for the next few weeks. They are in constant vocal and visual contact with one another as they fly over, perhaps pointing out a point of interest here, or sharing a juicy bit of gossip there. Maybe they simply navigate by following the sound of the goose whose tail is right in front of their own honking feathery face. It is like an a capella male chorus of a dozen voices warming up using only one note–E flat.

There is such expectancy in each noisy group that passes over, each oblivious to me enviously watching them from below. They have clear mission and purpose without needing a vision statement or strategic planning retreats. They know where they have been, where they are headed and that there will be full bellies by nightfall. They work as a team to get there with minimal energy expenditure and high efficiency. They never appear ambivalent or confused. I even suspect they like each other quite a lot.

I wish I had such clarity. I stumble about wondering which direction I need to turn next, what task has highest priority, who needs to go with me or who I should follow behind, how I can be more fruitful rather than futile.

I need the hope of the snow geese. Winter won’t last forever.

Psalm 147:16-18
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
at the breath of his mouth, the waters flow.

Seattle Times photo by Mark Harrison