In a solitary field covered mostly with snow, the faint lines of the football grid could be seen but no players, no fans, no concessionaires hawking their wares. Almost in the middle of this vacant field sat two birds, one slightly larger than the other, the other sitting, its legs folded gracefully underneath its body its long neck curved in an arch allowing its head to curl into the warmth of the feathers on its back.
Presumably as it rested the other, larger bird stood erect, its head straight up, its head moving slowing from side to side, its body only inches away from his resting companion. The occasional piece of trash would fly over the once green pastures of competition causing the larger goose to follow its path but it never moved and only watched, waiting for a real threat.
The busy road passing the football field had hundreds of cars driving by in all directions, there were students leaving school, ignoring the field and the sole occupants of the grid iron, more concerned with the thoughts of boyfriends, homework and getting across the street to the bus stop to worry about the two birds on the field.
Had they looked they would have easily seen the two geese, the two devoted companions resting in this place of supposed solitary protection. They would have seen the resting one and the one standing guard and would have seen the lesson of life that many of us forget. They were too busy, too rushed, too involved to notice the profound example of life at its best. They without the eyes to see could not fathom the fidelity of one to another and the glory surrounding that emotion of service.
Vigilant and attentive the geese stayed and rested, too weary perhaps to continue on their southward migration. They sought out a refuge of land and found the football field, right in the heart of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and right on the edge of two major streets, protected only by a thin fence. As I watched waiting for the light at the intersection to change two students jumped the fence and entered the field. Their goal was not to harm the geese, it seems as though they only wanted a short cut from one street to the other but as soon as the two entered onto the field the guarding goose moved into action and without fear or hesitation moved its wings to their full width and honked its loud cry in warning to the approaching students, they quickly altered their path, staying on the rubberized track and taking the long way around.
The sitting goose never moved, its head still buried deep into its feather, knowing the other would watch and protect. Knowing that the rest it needed would be reciprocated soon for her companion and she would stand tall and watch while he slept. In concert they fly, they feed and live almost as one, a marriage of nature and perhaps of God though design they follow their genetic blueprint as most animals do but in their adherence we learn the true purpose of life.
“Chose this day whom ye will serve…” for that service will determine who we become. Who is it that we truly wish to be? The geese may not have a choice in the matter, a goose is a goose and a lion is a lion but man has the ability to be whatever he chooses and therein lays the mystery of life. Some choices are obviously very difficult and some are almost impossible based on circumstances and past choices but in all cases a choice can be made. An incremental decision to change the past, alter the future and start the move toward the divine nature that is inherent in all of us.
The goose may be only a goose but that devoted trait is laudable and admirable, not only to other geese but to those who had the privilege to witness nature performing at its best. Following the natural path is best left for the animals but for man who has the beautiful and wonderful ability to choose regardless of genetic predisposition and past habits or circumstances, he can change his life in an instance and do so for good or ill, never really being bound to the genetic powers that control the migrations or habits of the animal world. He is completely free to change whatever he will change the only problem is in his will to change and in that desire to want to seek the truths that set him free.
I chose to be more like that goose, proudly watching and serving my companion, doing by duty regardless of the threats and discomforts of life, staying the course despite the pressures of life pulling me and swaying me toward more pleasurable option, short term fixes that only ensnare and eventually enslave. I want to be free to fly away, free to choose to continue to choose knowing that a wrong choice only limits those future choices and limits my essential ability to progress.
Those geese did eventually leave, having rested and regained their strength but their short visit gave to me a renewed and inspired view of my own need to be vigilant and at the same time being with others who can watch over me while I need to rest.