A New Feathered Friend
I was in Rutland State Park in early September planning to get pictures of the sunrise. In that sense the trip fizzled since the sky was very thickly cloud covered. But other gifts were revealed. As I hiked around Whitehall Pond, I spied an Egret in the northwest corner and sought to get closer for some pictures which required traveling a circuitous route around a fenced in parking lot and onto the beach.
And suddenly this beautiful, dignified being is right in front of me; a Great Blue Heron standing majestically in the shallow water. We are both acutely aware of each other’s presence. I get this picture and take what I thought was a slow step forward. But it was too quick and greedy. She is spooked and flies away. I wait and then walk toward the shore and fortunately see it well camouflaged about two hundred feet down the shore. Luckily, I find a path that might take me to her. I move carefully and slowly. I cannot see her most of the time and hope she does not fly away again. (I am using the female pronoun in this though I have no idea if this one is male or female.)
There are over forty species of herons which are widespread throughout North America. They feed on fish, frogs and reptiles they spear with their sharp beak along the margins of water in swamps, ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans.
As I walk over this path near the water doing my best to use the vegetation to camouflage myself, I get lucky again. I find her. I am suddenly less that thirty-five feet away partially hidden by two trees. I stop, not dead in my tracks, but totally, wonderfully alive in my tracks. In this moment I am completely present, aligned and attuned. She is all that matters in this time and place. I do not want to scare her again. I move slowly one small step every minute or so. I have found her again. I am just so very grateful.
A year ago, with all of my health issues I could not have done this. I was not sure I would ever again be able to be in the world like this. And today I am here. We are both so amazing and beautiful. I am not as strong or as sure footed as I used to be but I am here in this moment. My only regret is that she does not feel safe with me here. Wondering how to make myself safer I pledge to move no closer and if she flies away again I will not pursue.
She and I are not so very different. We seek to survive, find fulfillment, nurture and sustenance. We are partners in this life. We fish. We flee sometimes. We fly away. And are at times suspicious of strangers. In this moment, there is no heron and no human. There is no she and I. There is just this experience of being here with it all, recording it all.
One of the things I did not know on that day was that the difference between cranes and herons is that cranes fly with their necks straight out and herons fly with their neck pulled back in a sort of “S” shape and when wading if they pull back they are about to take off again as this one did about one second after I snapped this shot.
Now there is no thinking, planning or wishing. I can only engage in instantaneous reaction of widening the lens angle and pressing the shutter and hoping. Twenty-five shots with only hope. I will not know if I captured anything until I am home and download from the camera to computer. Twenty-five shots taken only on instinct. Trying to follow her path. All of which come up with some nice trees.
Then I find the one hit. Imperfect but nevertheless worth it. Had my lens been tilted in a slightly different manner it would have been a magnificent picture. Imperfect picture but perfect experience.
God is the process of finding friends like this. Spirit is that which brings me alive in these moments. The Divine is that which empowers me to stumble into moments like this that my soul so deeply craves.
Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God and a book about
God. Every creature is a word of God.