It wasn’t just the chill in the evening air this past weekend. Grandchildren here for Labor Day weekend; talk about school starting up. Not just the fact that they scrounged around for a sweater or blanket to wrap themselves in as the temperature in the air dropped despite their gathering close around the blazing fire in the fire pit to roast marshmallows for s’mores. It wasn’t just how crisp the stars seemed in the night sky. No, it was the call of the wild geese that afternoon. The call that for me for so many years has heralded fall.
There is something about the sight and sound of the large geese taking wing, together, encouraging each other along the way. The vision of the way to where they are going not just defined by an external landscape, but by an internal one. As if some “homing” device waiting deep within them, but now needed, stirs alive, ready to guide them. An internal call giving rise to their external calling. Their destination in this cycle of the seasons to which they respond is the location for them to “winter through” – where they are meant to reside till the seasons rotate through winter and into spring when the wild geese are stirred to take flight once again.
If there was ever a fall we who are human need to tap into something waiting deep within our internal landscape to guide us, to help us get to a wintering through time it is this fall. Fall is by its very nature a transitional time, as is spring. Transition times call us to re-orient. Somehow try to adjust to change which appears to be in the natural order of things. Of course, some years more dramatically than others.
When I was in my twenties, I wrote a poem about the wild geese one fall when I felt they were really calling to me. Off and on over the years I would pull that poem out as if it held clues for the reorientation I sensed I needed. I cannot locate the paper that poem was written on now. It is somewhere among the papers I have kept of years of “writings.” But the feeling I remember from that poem is still vivid, a feeling of yearning, of a sense that there was a place I was supposed to be heading toward and I needed to know the way. What I remember about my poem was that I sensed the wild geese had something, knew something that I did not have or know. Or maybe that I had had it or had known it early on but had lost it or had forgotten it.
What was it I was felt I was missing? That is the question to ask oneself when one feels longing or yearning. What did I see in the wild geese that I wanted to be in touch with? What was it that was calling to me?
What fascinates me about the wild geese is what I guess could be called their internal compass. A way of knowing that is instinctual and trustworthy. Something deep within their internal landscape that guides them to find their way to where they are meant to be in the continuing cycle of life. The other thing that has always fascinated me about the geese is how they move through their external landscape. Not alone, but together, as with one sense of way, place, and purpose that will be most beneficial to them individually and as a flock. And the aerodynamics of how they move on the currents of air on and through which they travel. They know how to “flow” and even more amazing how to flow together in ways that maximize their getting to where they are each meant to go – and how. They are so skilled at flight design and how to operate within the flow of currents of air that the Blue Devil pilots are trained in the aerodynamics of wild geese for when they display precision flying in formation to assure the safety of each of them and their group.
We are creatures of the Creator who designed all creatures with an internal GPS – a positioning system designed to assist and guide us surely and trustworthily through the seasons of life. A sensing system that can alert us to when we take wrong turns, when the roadways have changed, when the external ways have shifted. That can help us know how far off course we may be or how close to our intended destination. I am not sure what it is about the wild geese that helps them sense and understand how to move on changing air currents – it seems like such a mystery to me. However, do we not all want to flow with that mystery that is like the wind beneath our wings and trust it to help us maneuver conflicting currents, to companion and compass us safely forward?
This is such a fall, such a time in our lives when we can watch how the wild creatures move through the variable, changing landscapes in which all of us live. And we creatures who seem to have lost our way, or forgotten the way we were designed to live, move and have being? What can we learn from other creatures? That it is time to check in with our internal compass, our internal guidance system. It has been part of us, with us all along since our beginning. The currents in, around and over our external landscape are variable, shifting, and powerful. We need guidance in how to navigate them so we can move forward safely and for the good of the whole.