When I reached the gate a hawk flew over the western field and landed in one of those ubiquitous North Florida pines. He sat there even as I continued toward him down the hill, his call far more insistent than the normal predatory cry of a hawk. When I reached his tree I stopped beneath where he still sat, calling stridently, and began talking to him. He quieted and sat there as if listening intently. I wondered, could it be? Could this be one of the hawks we had "raised" here on the property? Could it be the one who, after his older sister flew, sat lonely in his nest in the tree next to the garden where I could talk to him every spring morning as I worked, the one who followed me around for weeks after he had learned to fly himself? Could it be the one whose nest tree was struck by lightning, whom we rescued from the ground before a fox, coyote, or bobcat could find him, and placed in a homemade moss-stuffed milk crate "nest" until his mother could find him and care for him? Could it be one of the many others we simply talked to in their nests day after day before they matured enough to fly away? Can red-shouldered hawks live that long, I wondered, and found out later that yes, they can.
He stayed on his piney perch as I talked to him a bit longer that morning, but Chloe was becoming antsy to continue the walk (and find the shade), so I left and headed further downhill. Immediately the hawk began crying out, so I turned once more and told him to be patient, I would be back for another lap very soon. But wild creatures operate on instinct rather than patience, and he was gone when I returned. Still I wondered about him being there and this odd behavior, and, as I cannot seem but do, found a lesson in him. Maybe God was reminding me providentially through this creature of His that He still remembers me, even in this strangest of years, that His eye so high is still keen enough to see where I am and what I need, and that He can find me among the billions of souls on this fragile planet we inhabit.
As I walked across the field, unreasonably hurt by the bird's perfectly normal absence when I returned, a large shadow flew over me with an impossibly wide wingspan. And once again I was called to remember: God is always there when life treats us badly, whether I see Him or not, and I can always hide in the shadow of His wings.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till these calamities pass by. (Ps 57:1).
(If you would like to see other hawk stories, click on the category "Birds and Animals" on the right sidebar.)