… (A)cceptance is the answer to all my problems today… The Big Book
My wife and I were out for a drive not too long ago. We were on our way to Sheridan, driving down along the highway approaching Alder. I was keeping an eye on the road, watching for deer, moose, elk, badgers, skunks, and other assorted road-hazards when the one thing I was NOT watching for swooped into view.
Approaching our little tin-can on wheels was the largest eagle I have ever seen. Eagles are magnificent birds, but since I am normally a hundred yards or more distant when I see them, this one caught me quite off guard. I was shocked by the sheer size of the bird. I am sure it was the raptor that rescued Gandalf from Saruman’s awful tower in Middle Earth, but if not, it sure could have been a close relative (referring to the eagle, and not to the wizard).
I think the poor creature was also taken aback to find us in his (or her) glide path; I suspect it was en route to pluck a fish out of Alder Creek, or maybe a marmot along the bank. As it approached the side of our car, it recognized the error of its ways and immediately banked right, like an F-16 avoiding a Russian MIG (and lord knows it was rushin’).
Unfortunately, it was going so fast and was upon us so quickly, tragedy was imminent.
That’s when the poor bird did everything she needed to do for survival. The incident took on one of those slow-motion effects one sees in movies when life is happening too fast for the naked eye to keep up. My mouth opened up to shout some “oh, shoot” sort of expletive, as my wife balled up into a fetal position and made herself as close to her birth-size as possible. There was a shriek to be heard, too, but whether it was the eagle, wife, or me was too hard to tell with any precision.
As all of this was going on, the eagle continued her turn and made an effort to ascend. She flapped her great wings with power and purpose, and then … then the miracle happened!
She lightened her load explosively, which enabled her to streak skyward. She left her payload sprayed across the front and top of our car, but the mother of all collisions was avoided.
Simultaneously, our poor little Suzuki (which is a beautiful shade of black) took on the appearance of a skunk rolling along the highway atop a skateboard!
The good news, of course: we survived an accident that never happened due to the eagle’s quick thinking (and the fact birds lack a control mechanism in areas not spoken of in polite company).
In any case, time returned to its normal pace and we finished our journey, returning home none the worse for wear (after giving our car a run through the local carwash).
I am truly grateful that neither bird nor humans were injured or killed there along the Alder Gulch. I am also grateful I was able to see the magnificent grace of an American Bald Eagle up close and personal. I probably could have done without it costuming the car early for Halloween, but better to have it splashed on that than m’love and me, eh?
I learned a long time ago that it is quite helpful to “let go and let God” (as the old cliché puts it). If the bird hadn’t “let go” – there’s a chance God would have entered the picture for one or more of us sooner, rather than later. I’m looking forward to the trip through the pearly gates, but I’m not in THAT big a hurry, I must confess.
Sometimes we think of letting go as something of a sacrifice – of giving up things we like and appreciate. But sometimes it is the other stuff, the stinky stuff we have to be willing to give up, and in doing so, come to find our lives are better for it. I’m thinking of things like resentments, frustrations, or events from our past.
Giving those things up could be really good for us – our health and vitality, and dumping that stuff might just allow us to soar higher in this, our valley.