Wild Geese

Every morning for the past several weeks, I walk past two geese on my way into work.

One calmly sits on a bed of green grass, black and gray feathers all fluffed out, surrounded by a web of bright orange traffic cones.

Another paces up and down the sidewalk, squawking loudly at anyone who comes too close.

It took me a while to notice that this song and dance between two geese had a reason, that each goose had a part to play as they created something brand new. The first goose was a mama, quietly working on hatching her eggs; the second, a protective father stalking away any potential predators for his babies-to-be.

But for a while, it seemed like they were just two annoying birds causing a lot of disruption on my walk into the building.

This seems to happen a lot -- I see something, make a judgment about what it is or isn't, primarily pay attention to how it affects ME (me, me, me -- always, right?) for better or worse, and then move ahead as quickly as possible.

I could have paused, like a child, to wonder: what's the goose doing over there? What's she sitting on? Why is she so quiet? What is that flash of light underneath her when she adjusts her position? My dog would've certainly wanted to sniff his way over there, make eye contact with the goose, perhaps throw out a few playful barks of greeting.

Instead I thought: Why are these cones in my way? The building really needs to get rid of these dirty geese, lounging around. Shut up, loud bird, I'm just WALKING.

Until I thought about the eggs. 

Protected, warm, safe -- day in and day out. Eggs can't "know" these sorts of things, of course, but without such conditions, they'd have no chance to hatch newness.

That's why the mama goose sits patiently. That's why the papa goose races in a half moon around her. They're laying the groundwork for something to be born.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have the let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
— Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"

It's pretty cool that people in my building saw this act of nature, and instead of sweeping it away as a nuisance, gave it space and shelter to grow. Thank goodness for bright orange triangles that forced me to pay attention to the small, common miracle of life.