The old Methodist church has stood across from our neighborhood for longer than anyone can remember, its spire reaching heights unhoped for by any other building in town. Quietly beautiful in its classical architecture, it sits serenely behind a row of maple trees that glow as orange as flame each and every autumn, and casts a benevolent eye right down the middle of our street. More observer than participant, it watches our comings and goings with a serene detachment almost as though it longs to whisper to us all...”sshhhhh”. One could never imagine its door painted red.
I was leaving the neighborhood on a sultry evening last week when something about the old church caught my eye. I looked up, and up, to the tip-top of the steeple, glowing silver in the just setting sun, and there, on the point where the spire scrapes the sky, sat a hawk. Almost too large to seem real, for even from my vantage point so far down below, he appeared enormous, a glorious feathered finial no architect could have imagined in his loftiest dreams. The hawk’s stare was piercing, his finely honed eye missing nothing below as his regal head shone white in the last of the sun’s sinking rays - so white I had to look away.
For those on the lookout for omens and auguries, this was too vivid to ignore.
Fresh from my despair over the environmental tragedy in the waters of the Gulf, it was so easy for me to interpret this sight as a harsh warning to man for his complacent disregard of the magical world entrusted to his care.
But then, the long ago words of Emily Dickinson wafted softly into my mind.....
“Hope is a thing with feathers”...
So, maybe it isn’t too late for wisdom, for differences to be set aside and restorative action to be taken? Maybe there is hope for us all even yet?
I lifted my eyes to meet the inscrutable gaze of the hawk sitting like a revelation atop the old church, and I knew - I would be interpreting this vision for a long time to come.