I always hear them before I ever see them. Their call is a throaty, high pitched warble and when lots of them are calling, it sounds like a gathering of excited tourists, shouting to each other from across a crowded street. The Sandhill Cranes arrive every year, migrating south, spending the winters in a hodgepodge of fields about a hundred miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tens of thousands of them make the annual trek, overcoming great hardships, surviving hunters and pollution, desert winds and human population explosions; every year, winter after winter, they come.
Migrations happen all the time, everywhere. We all know the stories; some of us even follow the species. There are migratory movements of butterflies, hummingbirds, salmon, and even dragonflies. It seems as if there are a lot of creatures genetically predisposed to move from place to place.
Scientists tell us that triggers for migration may be local climate, mating purposes, local availability of food, or because of the season of the year. Whatever the pull, they keep going, generations after generations, migrators still migrate.
I believe that humans migrate too. I’m not just speaking about movements from rural life to urban existence or a relocating toward more opportunities or better jobs; I’m talking about a spiritual migration, the internal compass that we all have that guides us to head in the direction of goodness.
We don’t hear about that migration very much. The news gives us other headlines, stories that talk about our propensity toward greed and evil. We hear much more about our leaning in the direction of selfishness and hedonism. And of course, there is some truth to the actions of our flawed natures. However, there is something else in our make-up, something that drives us to a better existence, something pulling us to kindness and generosity. We are made in the divine image of our creator and because of that image, there is a natural migration towards our best selves, our goodness.
Occasionally, we do hear those stories too. We hear about the heroic efforts of those who bear no thoughts for their own safety, rushing headlong to the aid of others in need. We hear about children, not yet cynical about our species, deeply moved by the suffering of others and who remind adults that as human beings we must care for each other. We hear those stories and we are moved by them and not because they are interesting or foreign. We are moved by them because they remind of us of who we really are, where we are meant to be.
It is easy to forget our divine calling, how we were created, what we really need to survive. Many of us have lost our way, feel unable to make the return journey to what sustains us. But the species is not lost. We still know the path. We just need to remember what we have always known. Just listen to your heart. You will get back home.
You are the light of the world.