We have a hawk that appears to have adopted our yard–I think because we have a tiny patch of trees. He flies in at the most surprising times. Sometimes I will have completely forgotten about him, and he will streak across the yard with his wide wing span. He has come so close to perch that I’ve actually had time to study his beauty. Native Americans believe the hawk is a totem of strength. When I watch this bird swoop and glide across the sky, I think of grace. He never seems to be in a hurry, even when looking for supper.
Our house sits right on the edge of Atlanta. At night you can see the skyline from my bedroom window. I have a love-hate relationship with this area. At times I long for open spaces and quiet. But I know I would miss this place. I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’ve come to know what to expect here: the grumpy drivers, the firehouse nearby, the school, other walkers, the city workers. I have a community.
This is a time of year where we focus on community more. For example, my church has adopted a women’s shelter down the road. Eight children–ages newborn through seventeen–live there at this time. We are finishing homemade Christmas cookies to complete the stockings that have been stuffed.
This is the time of year for choices. Do we take the time to make a difference or do we look at the season through Mr. Scrooge’s eyes? Do we say we don’t make enough money to help anyone this year? Or do we give because we are to give no matter how little we have?
The women of this shelter can be found under the bridges of Atlanta every evening without fail. Why? Because they take part of their supper to those who don’t have a place to sleep. They do this without fail with an open heart, filled with Joy.
Joy is not something that falls upon us when we receive our favorite present. Joy is chosen. Joy comes because we choose to experience it. And the good news is we can choose it at any time, even in the seems to be the most trying of times. The experience is easy, much easier than fighting it.
The hawk can fly higher than any bird with the exception of the eagle. It is known that often instead of choosing to fight, he moves to an altitude the enemy can’t reach. He rises above.
The fine women at the shelter have chosen to rise above, even while others feel sorry for them, even while many people walk around saying they can’t ‘afford’ to help anyone this season. These women haven’t called off Christmas because they can’t afford to spend money. They have taken to a higher altitude. They are experiencing the true joy of the season.
Where will you fly?