“What is Life ? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the winter time.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass
and loses itself in the Sunset.”
I woke up to the cry of a hawk this morning. It sounded closer than I had ever heard a hawk’s song before, so I scooped up my three-year-old son, ran outside, and looked up, only to see a red-tailed hawk perched upon the highest tree before me. He looked down at us for a moment, cried again, spread his wings, and glided off into the sky. That moment when I looked up at him and he looked down at me … that was my church service for this stunning summer Sunday. That moment brought me closer to God, to the present moment, and to the fullness of life than any church service ever could.
When I spent a week with my late dear friend, Paul Schultz, at his home on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, he made a habit of stopping and honoring the hawks every time they soared above us. He told me that their presence was sacred, that loved ones who crossed over looked after us through such animals. It’s no surprise, then, that I thought of Paul as I looked up at that great hawk, that I felt the presence of my father, of my dear friend Paul, of beloved animals that have passed away over the years. It was a moment that took me out of this material reality and showed me, for that split second, the un-selfconscious amazingness of the world above and beyond what we sense here.
My passion for hawks, the chills I feel every single time I hear a hawk cry out, the urgent desire I feel to share moments like that with someone I love, the unencumbered appreciation I feel for the hawk’s sheer beauty … this is my “religion”.