This and That Tuesday

Today we have a wonderfully sunny day in Western Massachusetts. I am pausing in my holiday preparations to post some thoughts.

Last week, David and I were lingering in the kitchen over tea and coffee around 9:00 in the morning. My eyes were drawn to a huge bird, flying just above the baseball field, out behind the town offices. I said, "David I think that is a bald eagle!" He saw it, too, but didn't quite believe that is what it was. The bird landed in a tree, and I could just make out his white head with binoculars. I was still in my nightgown, so I asked David to go out with his binoculars and see what it is. He did — and he found a bald eagle sitting on a branch overlooking the Connecticut River, just looking around. He got a close-up view of it, including the big yellow curved beak. David came back in and convinced me to get dressed and come out with the camera and the binoculars. So we went out together and it was still there. Wow! What a sight! How majestic! I knew, even as I was viewing it, that I was afforded an opportunity of a lifetime. I just kept saying, "Oh, how beautiful! Oh my God, that is so amazing!" David was trying to take a picture of it, when it flew from the tree, out over the river, and away. The wingspan on that bird was wider than David's armspan. It soared right above the water, and then was gone — as quietly as a mystery.

Two days ago, I was going to the bank, when I looked up, and lo and behold, there was an eagle, soaring around in circles. Once you've seen a bald eagle, there is no mistaking it — the shape of the wings, the way it soars, that wide wingspan. When I watched him, I could almost imagine myself up there, getting an eagle's view of the world in which we live. So, I am thankful for these two sightings. It is another reminder of what a wonderful thing it is to have nature all around us.

Have you ever seen a bald eagle? If so, where, and in what setting? Did you find it awe-inspiring?

I've gotten some very creative cards and letters from friends this season. Some people are so inventive with the way they catch you up on the year's happenings. I was particularly struck by one from John and Pat Anderson, who are parents to five and grandparents to fourteen. They managed, in one card, to include a photo of each of their children and grandchildren, photos of their fiftieth wedding anniversary, a wedding photo of themselves and each of their children, and one of their recent snowstorm. And then there are words of wisdom besides. This witty wisdom comes from the point of view of the stork, who visited their youngest daughter this summer. This was a rather unexpected visit, and it tells us how it has been working for the family for the last fifty years, and how it has arthritis in its wing joints. Then it says, "My outlook and attitude, however, could not be better and let me tell you why. The many bundles I deliver are examples of the greatest treasures you can receive.

My message to everyone is to pause and consider the real meaning of the holiday season. It's not the gifts and jingle bells we have become accustomed to, rather the creation of life, be it an infant child or the natural evolution of nature that surrounds us each and every day. 

Believe it or not, our greatest gifts are free and don't arrive gift wrapped. I hope you will take a few minutes every now and then to think about what this old bird is trying to say."

I get what the old bird is trying to say. It is important for us to listen to the sages in our lives. What a blessing it is to have the those who have been seasoned in life's joys and sorrows share their wisdom with us.

I first met the Andersons back when I was teaching school among the Amish. I visited them in their home in Short Hills, New Jersey just before I left the Amish for good. Then we lost track of one another for more than thirty years. Earlier this year, I got an email from them and we reconnected. Since then, David and I have stayed at their home several times when on book tour. It is always a pleasure to be with them. We are honored to be in their circle of friends, and to be reminded that the important things in life are not always what we focus on.

Pat and John Anderson

John and Pat both have blogs. Click here to visit Pat's blog and click here for John's blog, which includes a scan of the Christmas card I described.

Do you have sages in your life? What have you learned from them?

Now on a sadder note. Please keep the Yoder family in Fredericksburg, Ohio, in your prayers. This is an Amish family who just lost their fifteen-year-old daughter, Rachel, in a mysterious shooting. To learn more about that, you can read the report here.  It is now believed that it was an accident, as reported here, though there are still questions left unanswered. This tragedy is the second in just a few months for the Yoder family. Rachel's mother was killed in an accident when the van she was riding in was hit by a truck in September. Rachel has ten surviving siblings. I can only imagine the grief that this family is going through. My prayers are with them.

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11 thoughts on “This and That Tuesday”

  1. Yes, I just read about the accident that claimed the Amish girl’s life. So sad.

    Bald eagles! Now you’re talkin’! I lead an Eagle Watch every year here in Indiana… and I volunteer for a rehab center. This July I received word that there was an eagle down, went and retrieved it, and it’s been at the rehab where several of us have been working it.

    Last year in January, my co-worker and I did a count at the roost. We got a conservative count of 158 bald eagles. We’ve got a hot spot here in Indiana! Folks from Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have attended our event. I believe this is our 5th year.

    If you or any of your readers would like information on our Eagle Watch, you may access Upper Wabash Interpretive Services’ website or Facebook.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and these tidbits, Saloma. We saw bald eagles when we were on a float trip in Jackson Hole, WY in 2006. What a sight! You are right, you don’t forget that. Will be praying for the Yoder family.

  3. SA, thank you for letting us know about the eagle watch — how cool! I wish I could be there. I’ll be there in May, but not in February.

    Karen, it’s great to hear from you, as always. Thank you for sharing your experience with seeing bald eagles. I’ve never been to Jackson Hole, though I’ve heard of it quite often.

    Merry Christmas to you both.

  4. My thoughts are with that family. The death of a child is always a tragedy.

    As for bald eagles, they are a common sight around here but none the less majestic.

  5. Ian, you’re right, the death of a child is always hard – this kind of death has to be excruciating.

    How cool that eagles are a common sight where you live! Majestic is the word that describes them best.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!


  6. Living in an Amish community myself its disturbing seeing some of the people who drive their cars like maniacs around bends and hills, so i always try and remember that I’m sharing the road with something other than maybe a car. Now that I’m part of the fire dept I’m sure i will be seeing a lot more of the things id rather not see, and what shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Merry Christmas to all and wishing everyone a healthily and happy new years. Richard

  7. I’ve seen many Bald Eagles, becuase they are a common sight here in WA state. Many of them hang around the estuaries & shorelines. During spawning season, salmon attract great #s of them to Local rivers & Streams. They are truly magnificent birds!

  8. I wonder what ever happened in the case of this young girl. I can’t even imagine the pain this family had to go through. I wonder how they’re doing now.

    Starved Rock, here in IL, is a commom place where people go to savor the sights of eagles. My son’s Scout troop went not long ago. The only eagles I’ve ever seen were in a rehab. nature center and the Brookfield Zoo.

  9. I just found your blog a week ago and started reading from the beginning. In the meantime, I checked out your book “Bonnet Strings” and just finished it. I remembered you from seeing you on the PBS show “American Experience”. I see where you have been to speak at EMU twice and both times I missed it. I hope you will one day come back to Harrisonburg VA and speak. I would love to hear you. Kristin Payne

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