Birds of a Feather

Earlier this week, as I ran a metaphorically appropriate route consisting mostly of uphill slogs, I watched geese fly overhead.  In their “V” formation, one would take point battling the gale force winds with the others arrayed behind, each enjoying a bit more ease courtesy of the one before.  And then, seemingly without communication or prearrangement, the lead goose would fall back and another would take his place, allowing the weary member of the flock to rest and rejuvenate.  Each member of the flock was able to work to his capacity, and when he was tired others flew into the gap to pull him along.

This week, I was the weary goose.  For months I have been able only sporadically to take my place at the front of the group, but this week in particular my feathers are ruffled and my wings were weak.  And to my everlasting gratitude, the members of my flock spontaneously rearranged themselves to give me ease and comfort, without even needing to know why I needed it.  I was given the gifts of laughter and hugs, breakfasts and lunches and dinners and sustenance, runs and hikes, music, unexpected gifts in the US mail and notes that said “I love you” over and over in my email.  When I was tempted to just land and tuck my head under my wing, they told me I was strong and brave and wonderful and just perfect as I am.  They kept me in the air.

And it worked; after many days drafting off the efforts of my beloved friends, I am feeling ready to take a turn or two at the front of the wedge.  Last night I was able to put a little bit of strength back into the universe, celebrating a friend and reminding him that he is loved. This morning I woke up with the wind knocked out of me.  We move to the front, we fall to the back.

It’s easy to be brave if nothing bad ever happens to you, but it’s also not so very hard to be brave in the midst of bad things happening when you have beloved friends in virtually every corner of the country.  And this past week--the past months, years--y’all gave me what I needed to keep trying to learn to be brave.  Thank you, I love you.