“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
As often happens on the Oklahoma plains in summer, a sudden, brief rain shower appeared from the midst of the otherwise blue skies. Wind gusts spattered light drops into the windowpane, and I glanced out to see dark clouds seemed to have singled out the city block where I work.
Feeling grateful for the rain, however meager on a hot summer day, I stepped away from the window. A flash of yellow caught my eye, drawing my attention back outside.
I observed a small gray bird struggling to fly into the wind, its laboring wings straining with the effort, revealing its downy yellow underbelly, and I recognized it to be a young Kingbird. It made no forward progress, achieving only a hovering, up and down, up and down, as if tethered to a yo-yo string. “You can make it”, I whispered encouragement from my vantage point, expecting it to perch in one of the butterfly bushes waving a welcome signal to it from just a few feet away. After a moment, the bird simply folded its wings and landed on the sidewalk below it.
I was surprised that it would make the choice to land in that spot, a place where it was so vulnerable, it’s gray feathers and deep black tail in obvious contrast to the concrete. It must have decided there was no other viable option, discovering that his wings could not carry him in that moment to the safety of the shrubs.
There it stood, in solitary watch, carefully monitoring the area nearby, waiting. I watched and almost immediately grew impatient, worried for this little creature’s situation. Time continued past several seconds, then more, and I grew increasingly restless on his behalf. But he stood there, confident, keeping his wings folded against his sides, his eyes alert, using all his natural abilities to gauge his circumstances.
Then an almost imperceptible lull in the wind….branches swaying slightly less vigorously. It was exactly the moment he needed, and the little bird’s legs bent and pushed him upward, leaping into the air with a thrust of his wings. He turned to his right and maneuvered directly toward the safety of the butterfly bush.
I continued watching for another minute or two while he clung to the branch, again waiting. The wind slacked, the rain ended, shadows grew beneath the greenery as the clouds moved on and the sun came beaming down once more.
The kingbird had been caught in unexpected circumstances but successfully weathered the challenge in a graceful manifestation of patience. Now, he easily took flight, sweeping past the woman smiling toward him through the window, and off into the blue.
As I turned away, my heart remembered the voice of my sage spiritual director saying, “All in God’s time.”