This evening a whole gaggle of Canadian geese were crossing the last 200 yards of narrow road leading to the monastery retreat house.

As usual I’d been in a hurry and was running late to catch dinner and a room key…

The geese stopped me.

Like mini orange flippers shuffling off to the local pool for a late afternoon dip, their feet didn’t pick up the pace when my monstrous grey animal made of rubber and steel interrupted their peaceful stroll. If anything, the feet slowed, then halted, all of those velvety black heads turning in almost perfectly choreographed unison, some a full 180 degrees, to get a good long stare at the interloper. It was a momentary showdown, they waiting for some perplexing secret code or recognizable honk by which to let me pass.

And as I gently moved my foot from the brake to the accelerator, hesitantly pressing ever so slightly, the vision of goose road kill – no doubt a first in the history of the monastery – flashed morbidly before my eyes like another display of Nature’s cruelty narrated by David Attenborough. The tires. The alien screech. The awful aftermath. What would the gentle monk in charge of the retreat house say when I explained the fresh goose carcass in the middle of his extended driveway?

The geese were ever so slowly dispersing, but not fast enough to spare me the next fateful, pregnant moment: it was the sound of my own breath, the exhalation of surrender, the grace of letting go. My mostly blind, frenzied rush through the motions of life had received a “cease and desist” order from those oblivious geese. And for a moment I had seen and heard.

After dinner I walked down to the water, which is where I always end up when I’m here. A gentle breeze was rustling the green underbrush along the little path to the lake, sending whole thickets of leaves into a rippling cascade of vibrations. Like an invisible harpsichord player with countless fingers strumming out some faint, husky, low-rushing melody … that was the wind this evening.

The Spirit, Jesus said, is like the wind. Can there be any better metaphor?

This evening no fiery tongues of fire fell on my head. But the sight and sound of those leafy keys trilling like a harp, dancing to some mysterious, haunted melody, were enough to remind me the Spirit was here. So were the geese that told me to rest without saying a word. Why, I wonder, must we ask for greater signs and wonders?

 

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

Friend and author Amy Simpson, whose forthcoming book Blessed Are the Unsatisfied hits book shelves in February 2018, is also a coach and thought leader on issues related to mental health. Amy recently invited me to share some reflections in a guest post for her blog. Explore these “3 Tips for Coping With Today’s Biggest […]

This past week an overwhelming majority of America’s Christians went to the polls to vote in a candidate whose campaign targeted women, Muslims, minorities and people with disabilities as scapegoats, and whose televised rallies brimmed with hate language and bullying antics that until now my children had thought were not allowed on the playground (but […]

On the heels of last week’s heartbreaking events nationwide — in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas —I’ve been reading philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s book, Plato at the Googleplex: Why Plato Won’t Go Away. The question that preoccupied the ancient Greeks, Goldstein observes, is one that preoccupies us today, too — and maybe most […]

The aptly named “Recovery-Minded Church” series is next on the horizon here at this intersection between God and life — and you and your church can be part of this irregular but ongoing series. More specifically, I’m on the look-out for churches around the country who in their own unique ways are seeking (whether explicitly […]