the eaglets crash

The Eaglet Crashes (photos!) The Dog Plunges+Other Chronicles of Folly

Such a week! Calvin and Maddie flew (we did not know!)—then crashed. Sophie our dog fell from a cliff. Two rescues in one afternoon? And all happened within sight of my camera. Let me show you: 

The eaglets stood beak to beak near the nest, as they have since hatchlings . 

When they lifted their massive young wings, Calvin flew to a reef nearby and stood there on watch, waiting for food. He was facing the wrong direction , bless his little eaglet heart, looking at the bluff above him rather than the fish-full ocean beyond him. He did not yet know. And----he did not yet know about the rising tide.

The reef he was sentried upon began to disappear.
Wavelets gently rose and tickled his talons. He was annoyed, but kept his resolute stance. The water kept rising, now licking his talons.


What was happening? Why was he getting wet?  Mother? Father? He looked to them, 100 feet away on another reef, a much higher reef. They  squawked noisily at him, offering either instruction or abuse, depending on your interpretation of “eagle.”  

Calvin was paralyzed. Why was water moving uphill and over rocks! He did not budge, and now, five minutes later,  the tide had risen to engulf his talons and his feather-trousered legs. He was wet and soggy. He had waited so long, I knew he could not even fly if he tried. Nor could he walk off the rock.

 I was already planning an eaglet rescue, seeing myself running back to the house, launching a skiff, and scooping up the soggy bird from his coming demise. Just as I mentally snatched him from the reef, he fluttered his wet feathers, lifted them from the salt water, leaned wetly from his perch and . . ..  did this . . .

                        the shabbiest excuse for flight I've ever seen!

Then this . . . 

No, Calvin, you cannot fly with wet wings.  You cannot fly----but of course, you are a “sea eagle” (as your latin name so designates) and you can swim! Did you know that?  We have watched many of his kin overcalculate their lift, and hefting a salmon too big from the water, they drop into the sea with an inglorious splash. Then they pull out their oars-----and row to shore.

Just as Calvin did.

 (If you've never seen an eagle row his boat to shore, you've missed something!)

It was a humiliated Calvin who emerged, sodden, on another rock, one he hoped would not be eaten by the strange, hungry waters. 

Would he choose that rock again? Would he begin now to learn the message of the 26  foot tides? So much to learn! Such fierce masters of the wind and sky---but they know nothing when they begin. Like us.

And, this same hour, another creature I loved fell and crashed. My dog, excited by the eagles, got too close to the edge and fell off the cliff the eagles flew from. Instincts failed her. No Sophie, you cannot fly.

My sons rescued her and carried her, bleeding, to the house. We did not know if she would live or die. 

But two days later she is chasing our heels up the hill, doggy-happy and whole.

I desperately hope Sophie learns about the danger of cliffs. I hope the eaglets learn about the winds and the tides.  So much to learn in this life! But sometimes we stop learning. Sometimes we gather our little knowledge up and decide it is enough, and we stand, resolute and foolish, on reefs we should know will disappear; we step off cliffs we once knew were  deadly. 

We do it anyway. Our eager open-mouthed mind and heart has closed.  How does this happen?

In my Old Testament reading, I am slogging through the Chronicles of Kingly Folly and Stupidity. One after another, the kings of the Old Testament, abandoned the God they once knew. They were promised, “The LORD is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”

A few of them were “with Him.” They won battles, administered justice, served one another in His miraculous strength----for a time. But too many times, they jumped off the cliff, they stood on the wrong rocks, they forgot about the rising water, …  They forsook all they once learned was true and relied on themselves alone. And all was lost, literally.  

We can do better. Under one of those kings, Asa, all the people gathered together and “entered into a covenant to seek the LORD .. . with all their heart and soul.”

What happened to these humble seeking people, who never forgot who they were and how little they knew?

“They sought God eagerly, and He was found by them.”

They sought God eagerly.

He was found by them.

I know I’ll keep making mistakes in this life. No doubt I’ll tumble ingloriously, landing with a splash and a blush. But I cannot forget who I am: a silly ungainly creature with so much still to learn—

and I cannot forget who God is: The God of All Wisdom. The God Who Can Be Found. The God Who Wants to Be With Us.

And is. 

 (And Calvin? Listen to your mother next time when she sends you to a higher rock.)