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Every time I read one of your columns, I am always touched and moved in some way. Your heart and spirit come through clearly in your words. It's an oasis of comfort and serenity in a time when everything is so chaotic and unsettling.
- M Gardner, Deputy Managing Editor, Galveston Daily News

Monday, November 30, 2020

Flying in Formation

 Recently I started the day outside on our deck under a clear pre-dawn sky. The stars were brilliant, Orion settling in the west.  A meteorite streaked across the sky just before the east began to fade into gray. No sooner had the crimson and gold dissolved into the soft pastels of morning than the geese began to fly.     

 I heard them honking in the distance and watched as a long line winged their way to the west, silhouetted against the dawn.  They continued to come, hundreds, perhaps thousands of Canada geese in small and large groups, sometimes stretching from one horizon to the other.  They flew in imperfect V formations, sometimes in long diagonal lines, one behind the other, wingtip to wingtip.  One squadron flew low overhead, so close I could hear the wind in their wings. I suppose they were flying to the fields near the foothills to feed.  

 The beauty of migrating geese is one of the things I love about Colorado.  Who taught them to fly in formation?  Scientists who study this phenomenon say the V formation reduces drag and adds lift for each goose.  By flying together in this way, they increase their range by 71%.  And, since the lead birds put forth the greatest effort, they rotate the lead position.

 They don’t do this because of any legislation or decree.  They are not obeying anyone’s order. They do it because it is their nature to do it. They fly this way because they have learned over many millennia that they need one another for survival.  Life is easier when they fly in formation. 

,Watching the geese at sunrise reminded me of the unique global challenges we all face, including the Covid pandemic, poverty and famine.  To survive and thrive we need to fly in formation. Not because our elected officials tell us to, but because we need each other.  During Covid, that means wearing a mask, washing our hands, remaining six feet apart.  During and after Covid, it means providing for the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, opening doors of opportunity for the underprivileged.

 The Bible consistently teaches us the importance of “flying in formation.”  John the Baptist who introduced Jesus said, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).  

Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. … Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:35-40). 

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfishness or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you looking to the interests of others” (P9hilippians 2:3-4).

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