I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk

Bird Droppings January 17, 2022

I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk

It isn’t significant for many as I look at that statement; a red-tailed hawk crossed my path as I traveled nearly ten years ago, flying across the road and landing in a tree. Behind our house, a pair of hawks has hunted the fields and hedge rows since we moved in. For some, there is significance as each sighting of a specific animal has meaning to them. I have had an affinity for red-tailed hawks for many years. By my desk at school and home are tail feathers framed and even my daily meanderings; Bird Droppings is based on the idea that not all bird droppings are nasty, a red-tailed hawk feather as an example.

It has been nearly sixteen summers since I had the privilege to teach in our summer school program. We changed to a two-day class time and did worksheets, sort of intercession, and the fun is gone. It was a lot of fun back in the day as we surveyed flora and fauna of the campus. On day one of class, I asked how many plants were on the campus, meaning different kinds of plants, and the answers ranged from ten to fifty.

“Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.” Maimonides

That statement has significance in education and politics today. As the summer school session went by, we pressed and labeled over 100 different plants, trees and shrubs all directly on the school campus and still had many more to go. So, where is the significance to a red-tailed hawk? It is only one of several species of raptors in Georgia. It is not uncommon to be seen sitting along the roadside quite often waiting on prey in cleared areas, easements and fields. However, it has been nearly a month since I have seen one, which is significant because I look for them. Much like my students, they really did not know how many plants were so close at hand until they looked.

I am also always amazed when we are looking too hard we miss what is in front of us. Yesterday I was not directly looking for a hawk, and it appeared. A single second or two later, and I would have missed it. Life is much like this as well. I have spent many hours looking for something simple and only have it be where I looked, to begin with, and did not see it.

I usually do not save an editorial page today, and I found one from many, many years ago that I had filed away. I happened to glance through the pages from the AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and several editorials on one page caught my attention. One opinion was about the sin tax proposed by the governor on cigarettes and alcohol. Now legislators are looking for other ways to cut budget and not do good things like green space purchased by state, layoff in the university system, and cuts TANF. It was finding 400 million dollars of other ways to cut rather than tax cigarettes; it is interesting how we think.

Across the page, a short article on underage drinking and how teenagers consume 25% of alcohol and interestingly alcohol tax and cigarette tax were both indirectly conceived to cut down teen consumption. It has been a few years since the state flag issue, and it got an eighth of a page and several letters to the editor, including a letter from a man in Griffin, Georgia, quoting Gandhi.

“Any country would prefer its own despot over a foreign controlled system no matter how benevolent that government might be” Mahatma Gandhi

This letter was about our taking over Iraq, and the Gandhi quote was about Britain’s takeover of India so many years ago. Now I recall why I saved these pages nearly eight years ago. There was also an interesting letter concerning France. “France might be the voice of reason.” Another headline read to the effect, “US States IRAQ compliance, not the issue we will go to war it is only a matter of when.” I am rambling, looking for red-tailed hawks and reading twelve-year-old AJC editorials all in one sitting and still only three quotes for today.

I am concerned are rational as we wake each morning and go about our days. We have been watching a war unfold and now refold, which is really for most of us simply on the news, although numerous deaths have been hitting home daily. Still, even though many of us know friends and family involved, it is over there. Several days ago, I looked for a red-tailed hawk and was frustrated because no matter how hard I looked, I could not find one. My son would see one and state dad a hawk, and I would miss it. The hawks were there, but I did not see it for some reason; I did not turn quick enough, or maybe it flew by and was gone. It was not until I stopped forcing the issue did the hawk appear. We can set lofty goals and seek to fulfill them, but so many times in our straining miss the accomplishments along the way.

Going back to that old newspaper, Rose Kennedy’s quote spoke of the moments versus the milestones. I used a former professor at Eastern College, Dr. Tony Campolo “CARPE DIEM,” several days back. It is the title to one of his books and is Latin for seize the day. I was skeptical about using a quote with a religious twinge, but C. S. Lewis is not a typical theologian so I may borrow a quote from Mr. Lewis.

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.” C.S. Lewis

It is about the moment to seize the day, put aside the milestones and seize the moment as I reread Lewis’s quote each time a different view or understanding. Perhaps as I was looking for a hawk, I missed the point until I stopped looking and, in his words find the answer. Each day is a chance again to start anew, fresh as if we can begin again and ponder, think or seize the day, again and again. So for today, CARPE DIEM, and as always, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts, and please always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


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