Early Saturday morning, I left the house at dawn for a much-needed walk. I’d been feeling down for a few days, depression creeping up behind me, ready to pounce. The walk was a proactive measure. I would not let the depression devour me.
It was a typical Pacific Northwest morning and light rain was falling when I heard a sound I can only describe as Katharine Hepburn calling the loons in the film “On Golden Pond.” Startled, I look up to see two adult bald eagles at the top of the tree above me. The eagle at the highest point, in an attempt to adjust his footing, had stepped on the head of eagle below. She was squawking up at him to mind his feet. I gasp aloud, then hold my breath.
That’s when I hear quietly in my soul, “I did this to dazzle you, to cheer you up.” I look around, perhaps I’m not alone, and there’s another neighbor walking by who whispered this. No, just me. Then I know it was God. And the word “dazzle” — it’s like He knew that word, unlike some Christian language that leaves me feeling cynical, would catch my attention.
I felt like a child. God’s child. And I was in the presence of a Father who lovingly wanted to see delight on my face.
As a parent, I share this desire. My 7-year-old son has had a tough year. As he becomes more aware of himself and his place in this world, he struggles to find his footing and his own identity as a “big kid.” This frustration has manifested itself in a surly disposition that rivals a teenager. I’ve missed the silly, glowing, curious little boy from last year. There are times when we share a moment, where I catch a glimpse of the carefree child again. He will smile in glee, and the brilliance is blinding. In that flash, nothing can delight me more than making my son happy, taking away his burden for a moment.
I think this might be how God views me as I relish in the sight of the eagles above. I remember what Christ said in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” I don’t think God likes to see me depressed. Not because God is repulsed by depression or me in it but because it makes Him sad. God wants to see me whole because He loves me.
I decide not to continue my walk. I want to stay there in this moment with God. I stretch my neck to catch a better view of the eagles. I listen to the rain, my breath, my heart. But I know what I’m waiting for. I want one of the massive birds to fly off so I can see the magnitude of their size in all its glory.
The neighborhood begins to wake. A car drives by. Street lamps switch off. A kitchen light from the house on the corner turns on. I look at my watch knowing I need to return to start the day. The children have music lessons to attend. The basement needs clearing. I whisper, “Thank you,” looking up at the regal couple.
Then it happens. The female lets out another squawk, opens her wings and thrusts off the treetop. Impulsively, I jump up and down, clapping my hands together as I watch her soar deeper down the forest.
My morning encounter with the splendor of God’s creation reminds me:
Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
I can’t help laughing. God’s done it. God’s cheered me up.