About four weeks later, I saw the mother hop off the nest one morning and a day or so after heard tiny cheeps as I stood under the tree. In a few days, a white downy head appeared, and soon another one. The next three weeks we watched as the parents brought them food, kept them warm, and at times sat on the rowdy babies so they would not fall out of the tree! Soon both babies were sitting up in the nest, at times peering over at me while I picked, hoed, watered, and all the other chores involved in gardening. They were getting so big it took both parents to bring enough food, and their white down was turning brown.
And then one morning, one of them was gone. At first it did not go far. It sat in the trees across the fence from the nest-tree. It was bigger, but had more muted coloring, so we assumed it was a female, and big sister would call out to her little brother all through the day, telling him he could fly too, or so I anthropomorphically presumed. Then big sister and parents were gone most of the day, mom and dad teaching the first one how to hunt, and only coming back in the evenings to feed the smaller one in the nest, who always greeted them with the most pitiful little squeaks of happiness.
He seemed so lonely I started talking to him every morning when I was out, and he usually sat up, cocked his head back and forth, and peered over the edge of the nest at me, until I went inside. I assumed he would be flying in a day or so, but no, after a week, he was still there. He often flapped his wings, big, strong wings I knew could carry him easily, but he seemed afraid. In fact, one morning he hopped out of the nest onto the limb and lost his balance. It was funny to see him wave his wings like a human waving his arms in circles, trying to catch his balance—and he did, and hopped back in that nest as quickly as he could.
Then about ten days after his big sister flew, I went out to the garden and the nest was empty. I felt like his mother, not knowing whether to cheer or cry. I was sure he was gone forever. Then suddenly I heard him, and there he sat in the same tree, but fifteen feet higher! He stayed there the whole time I was out in the garden, but in the evening he was gone.
The next morning, I walked my path and heard him again. High in the air he circled over me then settled on a limb only 7 or 8 feet off the ground, and directly across the fence from where I stood, calling to me. As soon as I reached that point in my walk and started talking, he hushed and sat there cocking his head again, until I told him it had been nice talking with him, but I really needed to finish my walk and today’s garden work. He called awhile longer while I walked, sometimes changing trees to be nearby, but eventually flew off.
Every day that summer he would come back in the mornings and find a tree near me so we could talk awhile. He eventually figured out where I disappeared and once landed on the roof of the porch where we could see him and he could see us through the window while we ate. Then things happened. I had some surgeries, some complications, and for a few weeks was unable to walk. He disappeared and winter came. Now I knew he was gone for good.
Late in January I heard him outside one morning. Yes, when you have heard one hawk often enough, you can actually tell him apart from the others. I ran outside and called out to him. He stopped and listened, then flew away. It had been long enough, I suppose, that his natural fear of man had taken over, but it was still a nice moment in the day. But ever since that day, if I am late getting outside to walk, I hear him calling from high in the sky, and he flies overhead for most of the time I am walking. He will not let me get close, but he will land in trees close to the house to call at least, until I come outside.
I think God allows natural things to happen when we need them—things that encourage us, that help us overcome a temptation or get past a bad moment in the day; brethren we see in our day in unusual places, paths that cross when they can most help one another. I am a long way out and not likely to have those sorts of things, but maybe God has sent me this hawk. I know he reminds me of one of my favorite passages in the Bible—even though he is a hawk and not an eagle. But we will never get the benefit of those providential things if we are not paying attention.
So be aware today of the things that happen, the people you see, and the thoughts that cross your mind—maybe even that hymn that goes round and round in your head like a broken record. Maybe it was Heaven sent.
They that wait on Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. Isa 40:31