In the fall, I watch with fascination as each leaf once green and alive, begins to shed it’s cloak of health to reveal the ebbing away of it’s very life in hues of orange, brown, red and yellow. Nature all around prepares each year for the harshness of the cold, yet there is a beauty in its process. Now the snow and winter that seemed to last forever is finally gone and spring brings it’s new life once again. These transitions seem to turn faster the older I am.
The Canada Geese have found new friends that bound them together for the same journey they took together in the fall. They have attended general gatherings and assembled themselves in the familiar “V” formation in order to make the transition easier. I have waved to many of these groups lately, welcoming them home.
Today I have read a story of a woman who is struggling with cancer. After two years of treatment, she is beginning to understand the meaning of preparing for the possibilities of the end of this life on earth. She has stopped responding to the Chemotherapy. As nothing more can be done, she is wondering how her husband will cope and how he can manage with the children without her. Some moments she is peaceful and quiet and other times anxious and concerned. Her “home-going” is continually on her mind.
How does one shed the cloak of health to reveal the hues of the colors of letting go, hoping for a remission and making the best of the time that is left. There is a preparation that seems to last forever and it’s journey is unique to those who are on it.
Canadian Geese find that in flying in the “V” formation, they are able to fly effectively with little effort as the first in the formation moves the group forward with incredible efficiency. According to National Geographic, “As a bird flaps, a rotating vortex of air rolls off each of its wingtips. These vortices mean that the air immediately behind the bird gets constantly pushed downwards (downwash), and the air behind it and off to the sides gets pushed upwards (upwash) If another bird flies in either of these upwash zones, it gets free lift. It can save energy by mooching off the air flow created by its flock-mate.” When one bird gets tired of flapping it can move to an area where the flying is less strenuous.
I was thinking of this today as I pondered how we can help one another when the flying in life’s difficulties gets too strenuous. Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a life- altering event, or even looking to the future as one is getting older, what can we do for each other? How can we know that what we say or not say is helpful or hurtful? Is silence and respect for silence in another helpful? What if it’s not? Can we actually ease the pain of another?