Sunday afternoon, Ariana - my almost-nine great-niece - called me. She was itching to go walking. So I met her and her mom, Amy, at the horse pens, just west of town and next to the railroad tracks. The wind was cold against our skin, but the sun was gloriously shining, as we began our nature walk northward. We found bones, bleached white with age, from some unfortunate creature. We encountered a piece of rope that made us hesitate, for it strongly resembled a snake winding its way along the dirt path. We gazed at the cattle grazing in a field east of us, and smiled as two young calves playfully butted heads and kicked up their heels. Ariana talked of her desire to hunt for arrowheads, even as she picked up pieces of quartz and slipped them into her pocket. But it was the geese, honking and flying overhead, that stopped us in our tracks.

The first group, in a loose V formation, were Canadian geese. They were talking amongst themselves (honking) and seemed to know why they were heading straight towards the western sun. And then came flock after flock of Snow geese, their whiteness etched against the bright blueness of the sky. The sun reflecting off their bodies gave them the appearance of many strands of pearls, even as their V formation ebbed and flowed, creating fascinating patterns and designs. They, too, were headed west.. I had seen flocks of snow geese before, but there was something special about this encounter. Perhaps it was the angle of the sun, or the color of the Oklahoma sky. Maybe it was because I knew I was witnessing the rhythm and sanctity of life being played out between heaven and earth. But, what made the vision most special was because I was walking beside Amy and Ariana. Yes, it was a beautiful afternoon last Sunday!

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Thus, I found an interesting parallel when I took an online course Sunday evening. The course dealt with leadership and influence, and one of its main examples used a flock of geese to get its point across. Did you know that when a goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow? And by flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. And why do geese honk while they fly? It is to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Also, when the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. And most interesting of all? Did you know that when a goose gets sick, shot down, or wounded, two other geese will drop out of the formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until the injured goose dies, or is able to fly again. Only then do they launch out with another formation, or catch up the flock.

Applying the functions and ways of God's flying creatures to man's ways, we can learn that if we have as much sense as a goose we will be willing to accept other's help, and give our help to others. Also, in groups where there is encouragement, the production is greater, so the power of encouragement is the quality of “honking” that we seek. And best of all, if we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are soaring!

So, the next time you look up towards the ethereal reaches of space, and your eyes trace the pattern of a flock of geese (or ducks) as they innately follow their instinctual path, think first of the sheer beauty they exhibit. And then think, “Hey, surely to Pete I have as much sense as a goose!” And with that thought tucked under your “wing”, seek out and find ways to encourage, help, and shine your special light upon all the other souls flying beside you, wingtip to wingtip! .