Every year at The Lord’s Ranch we see geese flying overhead in the V-formation as they migrate. They often make honking noises which draw our attention to look up and watch these majestic birds fly by.
Jesus invites us in Matthew 6:26 to “look at the birds of the air…” God has things to teach us through the birds, if we stop, pay attention and reflect. So I looked into how geese migrate, and what I learned made a big impression on me. I’d like to share 3 of those things with you now.
1) Don’t go it alone
I learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately flying behind. Flying in “V” formation conserves the energy of the whole flock and they can go much further than if each bird flew on its own. If one of the geese does happen to get out of formation, it quickly feels the resistance and pull and tries to rejoin the group as soon as it can.
We need one another in this journey of life. We need the support and help of community to persevere and to arrive at where we are headed.
The enemy wants to divide us and isolate us. We become more vulnerable that way and easier to sideline and pick off. Don’t let that happen. Look for community and stay connected.
2) Our words are so important
Geese repeatedly honk during flight to encourage each other to keep at it, hang in there, persevere. This benefits the whole flock.
What messages do we give when we “honk”? Are we critical and complaining? Or do we encourage and edify with our words?
St. Ignatius of Loyola, in the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, says we should put the best interpretation possible on what our neighbors say or do. In other words, give them the benefit of the doubt.
Ephesians 4:29 “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.”
It’s much easier for us to talk about a person than to talk to a person. Jesus tells us to go directly to the person that we have a grievance about and try to reconcile with them, but instead we tend to talk to everyone except that person.
3) Take care of each other
If a goose gets sick or is shot and falls to the ground, two other geese follow the wounded goose down to help and protect it. They stay together until either the fallen goose can fly again or until it dies. Only then do the other two return to their migration.
Wow! How beautiful is that!
That is Christianity in action. That is what Pope Francis has been tirelessly calling the Church to — to take care of one another, bear one another’s burdens, let no one fall through the cracks.
God put this in the instincts of the geese to teach us. To our shame, they seem to do a much better job than we do.
As I said in point #1, we need one other in order to fly successfully through life. We are called to support one another, not tear each other down. When there are hurts and divisions, someone needs to be brave and make the first move toward reconciliation. Work out disagreements quickly. Don’t let the accuser come in and divide.
As the song goes, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes they will know we are Christians by our love.”