In the early morning, just after dawn, I see them. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of geese. They form lines in the sky, one taking the lead, now another. Maybe, if it were just one, I wouldn’t even notice. It is the formation of many that catch my eye. They are in communion. With the backdrop of the brilliant blue autumn sky, the field of gold, and the reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn color in the distance, it occurs to me that I’d love to know how to paint this lovely scene. When I was small, I would watch the geese in the sky, and then I’d take my crayons and draw a perfect V formation of birds on the blue construction paper, the birds always precariously close to the sun with its yellow and orange crayon-lines streaming outward.
It seems the geese are always seeking a perfect place, always on the move. It occurs to me now that the geese can represent much to us humans.
We yearn for a perfect place, whether it is a perfect home life, or perfect job, or perfect partner. The geese do this, too. In the fall, they fly south in an effort to stay warm and happy. In the spring, they come back north to raise their little goslings. My mom tells me stories of the geese that return, year after year, to her property to raise their babies. Apparently, the adult geese lose their feathers when their goslings are young. They only get them back when the goslings are ready to learn to fly. If only we, too, could sometimes focus simply on staying out of danger and learning to fly again.
On a recent business trip to Los Angeles, I stopped to visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Its scale and design remind me of St Francis de Sales in my hometown. Four windows form the giant cross above the altar. The walls of the space are decorated with amazing tapestries depicting saints that lived throughout history. What is most striking about them is that their figures face the cross, as if they are standing beside the people in the pews, looking towards the altar. These holy men and women remind us to focus on staying out of danger and on learning how to keep the goal of returning home in focus.
During this month of celebrating our saints, I encourage you to stay focused on the cross. And when you see a formation of geese in the sky, perhaps you will consider the saints in your midst, always focused on their direction, and always there to remind us of our true home.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.