And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens." - Genesis 1:20
During my camping vacation at Poe Valley State Park, I certainly saw and heard birds galore. I woke to hear them at dawn (and then went back to sleep!). And I saw or heard them throughout the day.
My favorite moments were when two Canadian geese and three goslings crossed my path. The fluffy, gray goslings were cuteness personified, especially when they swam as a family with their parents at either end, paddling single file.
It was a marvel how well protected the triplets were when they hunkered down in the grass. They knew exactly how to nestled into the tall grass to be wonderfully camouflaged. And let’s not forget how fierce and aggressive the parents can be if a person strays to close to them. If you’ve never been confronted by a full-grown goose – don’t. The hissing is one thing, but if they come for you, head for cover! Geese are very loyal and courageous as parents and as part of a flock.
"Lessons from the Geese" was written in 1972 by Dr. Robert McNeish of Baltimore, Maryland, for a sermon he gave in the church he attended. McNeish, a science teacher, had for many years been intrigued in his observation of geese. Here are his findings:
As geese flap their wings, they create an uplift for the bird following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if any bird were to fly alone.
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.
The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
When a goose gets sick or wounded or is shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it is able to fly again or dies. They then launch out on their own, with another formation or catch up with the flock.
It’s always a marvel to me how God has arranged the natural world as a living lesson for our very human lives. We could do worse than follow the way that geese keep in relationship with one another. The one thing the geese and all of creation know is what their part in the order is. No, not in the intellectual sense, but instinctually they do. We humans have yet to understand what our part is. But, surely, if our feathered friends can do it, with God’s help, we can, too.