by Cherice Bock
This morning, my two-year-old joined me on the couch at about 7:00 am. We were waking up and chatting when we saw a huge bird fly by the window. We have a fairly large pond in the back (see picture) and two small ponds in the front, so I've seen the blue heron before when I've startled it (accidentally) by bursting out the back door when it was trying to pilfer our goldfish. We used to stock the pond with koi, but that gets rather expensive when feeding a heron! I hadn't seen it go to the front ponds before, and my son hadn't seen it at all.
I wanted to show the heron to my son so I picked him up and tried to approach the window slowly to get a better view. We could see its head and we stopped, it's left eye pointed right at us. Trying to get a better view, I took a couple steps closer, and off swooped the heron. "Oh well," we said, and sat back down on the couch.
As we read a Dr. Seuss book, out of the corner of my eye I saw a large shadow fly in again. "There it is!" we both said, excitedly, and tried to be quieter and calmer approaching the window, but again, the heron flew away before we got a very long look. I tried to pull out my phone to take a picture, which scared it off.
This time, we decided we'd wait by the window. My camera sat at my side and we watched out the window. We talked about being quiet and still. We talked about how it might show up, and it might not. We talked about why it would come to the pond, and whether or not it might have babies it was feeding (all topics brought up by my 2yo). We waited, and we watched. He saw many different kinds of birds and said, "There's a heron!" We talked about how that one was a blue jay, that one a crow, that one too small to be the heron. We waited, and we watched. We saw cars and cats, but we didn't get to glimpse the heron again this morning
As we waited and watched, I thought about how similar this experience was to waiting and watching for the Spirit. Although the analogy quickly breaks down because the Spirit isn't afraid of us and is in many ways always present, we wait and we watch for moments in worship when the Spirit shows up in a profound way. Just like I know the heron exists right now somewhere, and the Spirit always is and will be, there are moments where I can perceive the presence of the Spirit in a powerful and meaningful way, and moments when I can't. We waited for the heron with a sense of expectancy. Maybe the heron would come; maybe it was done fishing for the day.
We call it a good day because we got a couple glimpses of the beauty of the heron as it broke into our lives. We learned to discern between different types of birds; we learned about patience and anticipation. Maybe we'll try again tomorrow. Maybe, as we wait for the blue heron, we'll also encounter the Spirit, my son and I, in those early morning hours as we're just awakening to our day.