Friday, February 10, 2012
Sneaking up on God
While mending pasture fences, I found myself with a choice. I could stop and look for the unseen wild turkey walking on dried leaves in the branch, or I could see how close I could get to a brown owl perched on a pecan tree limb hanging over the fence line. I chose the owl. He has become a God-symbol here on the farm and since he was facing away from me, I decided to try sneaking up on him.
The first time I encountered him was in the Spring of 2010. I was sitting next to the branch on a five gallon bucket trying my hand at a turkey call. Just as the sun was about to disappear this owl cut loose with a heart stopping hoot from a tree behind me scaring me so I nearly fell off my bucket. I never saw him that day, but I knew he was there! Some two years later after retirement I saw him as he flew majestically and effortlessly in the morning fog just above the fence line. For me it was like an announcement that God was in this space as surely as I had always thought of him being present in man-made sanctuaries. And then there are those nights when I listen to him as he makes his distinctive sound in one place after another. As I listen in the darkness, I know he is out there. It is as if he is declaring, "This is my domain. This is where I dwell."
I am blessed and privileged to share his dwelling place. This old bird has allowed me to encounter him in ways that remind me of God. Sometimes He frightens me with His surprising nearness. He is full of majesty. Though unseen, He makes Himself known. And, where I am is always His domain to rule. So, maybe this explains why I tried to sneak up on the owl. As I moved closer to him, I was aware he was watching me. For a moment I imagined our eyes met and then he stretched those wings and disappeared in the woods. I stood still a moment for it seemed filled with the holy.