In Autumn, when the colors change Nature has it’s signal for change. Like the trees, the birds stir with restlessness within their breasts. It’s their very nature, they too are looking for change. Migration, be it of animals, birds, or humans, is a word that speaks of survival and change. The honking of geese flying overhead as I awaken while on retreat in the Autumn is a call for morning meditation! On one such retreat one October a woman read, as a reflection, “The Goose Story” by an unknown author. The “Goose Story” contains a deep, abiding philosophy of life.
Next Fall, when you see Geese heading South for the Winter....
flying along in a "V" formation...
you might consider what Science has discovered:
As each bird flaps its Wings,
it creates an Uplift for the bird immediately Following.
By flying in "V" formation
the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range,
than if each bird flew on its own.
People who share a common direction
and sense of community
can get where they are going more quickly and easily
because they are traveling
on the thrust of one another.
When a goose falls out of Formation
it suddenly feels the Drag and Resistance
of having to go it alone....
and quickly gets back into Formation
to take Advantage
of the lifting power of the bird in Front.
If We Have as Much Sense as a Goose
We Will Stay in Formation
Who Are Headed the Same Way We Are.
When the Head Goose gets tired it rotates back in the Wing...
and another goose flies Point.
It Is Sensible to Take Turns Doing Demanding Jobs
with People or with Geese Flying South
Geese honk from behind to Encourage those up Front to keep up their Speed.
What Do We Say When We Honk from Behind?
Finally....and this is important, when a goose gets sick,
or is wounded by Gunshots,
and falls out of Formation,
two other Geese fall out with that goose and follow it down
to lend Help and Protection.
They stay with the Fallen Goose until it is able to fly or until it Dies;
and only then do they launch out on their own
or with another Formation to catch up with their Group.
If We Have the Sense of a Goose
We Will Stand by Each Other like That.
Some say that geese do not wait for a fallen ‘comrade.’ Many would argue that they not only lay in wait, but grieve as well. When I was eight years old, one Autumn day there was a flock of mallard ducks hanging around the spring in the pasture where the cows watered. Puzzled about the ducks, Daddy discovered that one of them was wounded. He took the bird in, cared for it and bandaged the festered leg with drawing salve. After a few days the duck’s leg was better. In the meantime, we noticed that the flock of ducks never left the pasture. Before long, the injured bird stood up, preened and fluffed itself, then spread its wings and joined the flock in the pasture. A few minutes later Daddy called, “Look, look, they’re flying away.” They had waited for their wounded comrade. Daddy noticed that they let him fly at the end of the formation in the position of least resistance!
My next story is of human migration to the beach in the summer. One summer our family was caravanning for a three-week vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A veritable gaggle of geese, we never lost sight of each other! Then the car in which my husband and I were driving broke down just two hours from our destination. My daughter and her husband and the children circled back and joined us at the repair shop in a nearby city. We insisted that they go ahead. My son-in-law would have none of it. “We’re in this together” he said, and we all “stuck it out” until the repair was complete. We arrived at our destination after midnight, but we were all together. My son-in-law, Tom Cooney, died five years ago. He gave me a memory to cherish forever.
I am awestruck at the extraordinary ability of birds, animals and humans and their tenacity to traverse or fly vast distances. I thrill each time I watch the movie “Fly Away Home,” about a teenage girl who, with the help of her father, teaches a family of orphaned geese how to migrate. It is a story of human compassion and the meaning of “to love is to set your loved ones free.” National Geographic’s film “March of the Penguins” takes you through the life cycle of penguins, a ‘must see.’ They do their traveling on foot, always being totally dependent on each other. And in the words of the poem–
If we have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are. And we will stand by each other!