Ospreys are fascinating birds to observe. During the past few weeks, I have been delighted to see them soaring in the sky above our neighborhood. I have become well acquainted with their cry and usually hear them first before seeing them. I never cease to be fascinated with catching sight of one! As I write I listen to their distinctive calls and have to discipline myself not to become distracted. This year, I seem to notice these exquisite birds of prey everywhere I go around the city area. More nests are visible too as these birds, once threatened with extinction, have made a healthy comeback.
Since the osprey’s diet consists of 99% fish, it is not surprising that Nova Scotia’s abundance of lakes and coastline is home to a high concentration of their population. In 1994, the osprey was named our official provincial bird. Our neighborhood lake and at least two nests nearby allow me to enjoy watching these birds from my own deck. Occasionally, while out for a walk, I have seen them circling high overhead then suddenly swoop down feet first, splash into the water, and emerge with its inch-long talons embedded in a flailing fish. I am always amazed to see their powerful wings thrust their body high into a tree against the weight of their prized catch. If you’ve not had the opportunity to see this, check this out.
A few days ago, I sat in my car eating lunch and watched a pair of ospreys with their juvenile offspring. It appeared the younger one was learning to perfect her flying prowess. Yesterday, from my deck, I watched as they circled around up to one hundred feet in the blue sky watching for fish in the lake below. Perhaps the young one was learning from his parents how to master this difficult but essential skill. Year after year pairs of osprey, which usually mate for life, return to the same nest. Our provincial power company has erected several safe-nesting platforms or relocated nests that were on poles with live wire. In the spring, a pair of ospreys will renovate and reinforce their nest with more sticks and line it with everything from plant products to a flag or even baby diapers![i] The one near our local Wal-Mart® is adorned with a leafy tree branch perched like a sentinel.
Over my thirty-five years of involvement in Christian ministry, one of the most beneficial lessons I have learned is the importance of remaining teachable. My school years, college education, and leadership training are invaluable, but the practical application of that knowledge has been learned “on the field” not in the classroom. My college notes and textbooks have largely sat on the shelves or been stored away in a filing cabinet. They are part of the foundation upon which God has built my years of ministry.
As a student, I always enjoyed learning and knew I would be a teacher of some kind. My love of research and writing essays and papers opened up opportunities to write curriculum for teacher training and children’s programs. God continually opens up new doors where my teaching gift is used to grow and edify the Body of Christ. I am so grateful for the people He has placed in my life to teach and mentor me. They demonstrate to me the value of maintaining a close relationship with God, being sensitive to the needs and personalities of others, developing team leadership, fostering friendships, and endeavoring to achieve a balanced lifestyle.
Learning from others who have gone before inspires me to break free from my shell, explore my expanding capabilities, observe what others have found to be effective ways and means, spread my wings and soar far beyond the comfort of my own nest, search for what will nourish my soul and strengthen my character, and dive into that which will bring purpose to my life here on earth.
I have found the best education comes as I teach others. It keeps me humble, accountable, teachable, and grounded. Wisdom cannot be learned from a book; it must be imparted by those who are wiser and more experienced and I must be willing to receive it with grace.
I hope at the end of my life I will be able to say with Solomon, “The Teacher was wise. He gave knowledge to people. He put many proverbs to the test. He thought about them carefully. Then he wrote them down in order. He did his best to find just the right words. And what he wrote was honest and true. The sayings of those who are wise move people to take action. Their collected sayings really nail things down. They are given to us by one Shepherd.” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-11, NIRV)
Until next time,