A red-tailed hawk and a bald eagle flew into my life over the course of 3 days.
Seeing a red-tailed hawk isn’t unusual, but on Saturday during my walk in nature, the red-tail I saw was not to be ignored. It stayed, circling and kettling directly above my head for several minutes, as if commanding me to look, watch, pay attention.
Then yesterday morning I saw a bald eagle on my walk. The bald eagle, much more of a rarity in an urban area, had its meal in its talons as it flew overhead, landing on the branch of a tree a bit ahead of where I was. As I walked closer I saw it eating and ripping apart its prey with its powerful beak. I was reminded of what I had just read the night before in Martha Beck’s new book about wordlessness and turn-arounds .
Beck was in Africa and saw a leopard catch an impala. As she saw the antelope kicking and thrashing, Beck started to become upset. So she deliberately used a breath-to-heart technique to get her mind clear of stories. She realized then that the impala was in shock and confused, but not having thought-based fears that humans have about dying (and that she was projecting onto the impala): “This shouldn’t be happening!” “I’m not ready to die.”
The event was not something evil or wrong.
As Beck describes it, she “could clearly see that the leopard killed the impala. Then [she] immediately found truth in the opposite statement (a turn-around) [She] could just as easily say the leopard ‘lived’ the impala, taking its stored physical energy into her own body.” (pg. 47-48) Holding these opposites helped push Beck into a paradoxical belief structure.
I believe the timing of my eagle with its prey sighting was no accident. It reminded me of the importance of not being dogmatic about my beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong. Freed of limiting thinking, I am open to a world of possibilities for myself.
The added impact of symbolism
I googled the symbolism of these birds of prey to see how the information might also shed light upon issues and opportunities that are present in my life. The messages were profound.
Two aspects of the symbolism of the red-tailed hawk, which really resonated, were that a sighting such as the one I had may reflect childhood visions becoming empowered and fulfilled. (How cool is that for a 62 year old that’s in her second coming of age?) This particular bird may also come “at that point in your life where you begin to move toward your soul purpose more dynamically.” (Again, I’m liking the idea.)
The bald eagle represents the ability to see the highest truth or viewpoint. It can mean coming into your spiritual energy and having the ability and the freedom to reach great heights.
The symbolism makes my socks go up and down. I am soaring.
Bird Banding And Love
Then my epiphany.
Thinking about birds of prey caused old memories to surface. Interestingly, past losses and hurts have been surfacing frequently for about a week.
I was 30, Thom was 28. We were smitten – a couple for two years who had hit a rough patch when our relationship suddenly ended.
During hawk migration season for the two years we were together, we’d take every Tuesday off of work to walk a designated part of the Appalachian Trail and when no one else was around, we’d turn off the trail to the hidden path that took us the to the hawk banding station.
It was a blind that had been built about 3/4 up the mountain many years before. I so wish I had photographs to share. Photographs of the blind; of the nets to capture the hawks for banding; of the pigeon, who was the lure, in his protective leather vest; of the lines connected into the blind so that we could make pig’ move and attract the hawks when they soared nearby. Pictures of the tins the birds of prey were put in to keep them calm while they were being weighed, measured and banded before release. Of the log book. Of Thom. Of me camouflaged to look like a red gum tree.
We’d be there all day, binoculars making imprints on our faces as we held them to our eyes hour after hour scanning the sky for passing buteos and accipiters. When we, usually Thom, spotted one of these type of hawks in the distance he would start working pig’, creating movement so the hawks would notice it and come in for their next meal.
If there were no winds and no bird movement, we’d make love in the blind and erase all sense of boredom.
I learned so much about birds of prey and nature from Thom. I have many stories-to-tell-at-a-party about banding hawks and our one golden eagle.
Then one Tuesday he went to the station without me. I don’t remember why. It was November 18, 1980, the day he died in a car crash on his way home from the banding station.
There were no services until 6 months later when Thom’s mom invited me to attend the group service at the Philadelphia Anatomical Society where Thom had donated his gorgeous body.
I stuffed so much inside me at that time. Until today, I hadn’t really thought about the long term affect on me. I shake my head in wonderment at my ability to deny and tamp down feelings, only to have them come out sideways – the source of the feelings, at the time, unknown.
Part of my coming of age this year, in fact very soon, will be a ceremony of loss and healing. It’s way overdue. Then, my friends, I’ll be soaring with the hawks and eagles. And with purpose.