A while back our county was bracing for a possible hurricane. The days prior to anticipated landfall were calm and beautiful, and then the day before the anticipated event, the clouds and rains came in drenching bucketfuls.
Being a Florida Native, I had my bare minimum hurricane supply intact, and headed to work in the relentless rain. My job is in a location with an expanse of space and acres, and it is not unusual to see some birds of prey when I step out to stretch my legs during a break.
This particularly dreary morning as I prepared to turn towards my building, I saw a large majestic Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting on a fence post, only 4 feet from the ground. The rain was steady and heavy and I looked at this bird of prey, as she sat in the pouring rain. She looked past me, as if to ignore my presence, and simply sat in the pouring rain.
I thought this was odd, because although I had seen Red-Shouldered Hawks in the area before, they were always perched high looking for prey, or soaring above as if securing their area. This hawk just sat on a low fence post in the rain. How strange I thought, but then I pulled up to my parking spot and got busy with my workday.
Only a few hours after arriving at work, I headed to my car to make a trip to one of our neighboring administrative offices, the rain was still pouring steadily in buckets, and much to my surprise, the hawk was still sitting in the drenching rain. I drove past and thought how weird.
When I was returning to my office, I slowly drove near the area where the hawk was perched, trying to see if it was injured or sick, or if there might be a nest nearby. The area that the hawk was perched in was not typical for the area where I would see them searching for prey, so the whole thing left me concerned and perplexed. The hawk looked at me in my car, as if annoyed.
I parked my car in my spot, donned my rain slicker and walked out to the fence post area. I was certain that something was wrong with this beautiful bird and I had to find out why it was not behaving the way I had always seen these beautiful creatures behave. I slowly approached in pouring rain, I was shocked at how close I was able to get, I was within 8-10 feet of the perch.
There I stood in the pouring rain staring at this large majestic hawk, staring back at me. I needed to understand what was wrong so that I could help this creature. The hawk stared back at me in great annoyance, but did not move. More rain, so I went back to my office, wondering if I should call Wildlife Rescue. I was determined to help this majestic creature out, it was not itself.
More hours pass, this time I am so curious that I head out with my slicker during a break, just to see if the hawk was still there. By now 6 hours have passed and the rain is still pouring down, and there the hawk remained , so I drew in my breath and went closer,closer, until finally I was within 5 feet or so from the post looking the hawk squarely in the eye.
I confess I spoke to the hawk ( I know, weirdo…), but I asked her “What is wrong?”. This time, she looked straight at me and with a very annoyed movement, she went to a nearby fence post and glared at me. There we were in a standoff in the pouring rain. She must have realized that I was not leaving, so she hopped to the ground clawed at it as if to pretend that she was foraging for food, she looked up at me as if to say “There, is that good enough for you?”, then she flew up to a nearby lamp post.
I was so relieved that she flew higher, my mission was accomplished, she was healthy enough to fly or forage if needed. I had ensured her safety in the midst of a pending storm and danger, I saved the day and went back to my office to dry off and accomplish less heroic but nonetheless important work.
Weeks later, I was outside of my office and it was a beautiful day. nearby high up on a power line, I saw the beautiful Red-Shouldered Hawk. She saw me and moved to a spot closer on the pole and then she began to make this loud screeching sound, the whole time looking my way. I saw a smaller hawk on another nearby pole. This screeching went on for some time, and she did not move from the pole near me. I looked with delight and wonder at these majestic creatures.
Then the thought occurred to me….that hawk was telling the other hawk what an annoying and obnoxious creature I was. She was letting me know in no uncertain terms that she was a capable hawk wired by God to behave as a Red-Shouldered Hawk in any and every circumstance. When a dangerous hurricane is coming, hawks don’t soar or search for prey, they get low and ride it out so that they may soar and search for prey another. day.
I was so caught up in concern and compassion and determination to figure out what was wrong with the hawk in order to save it and save the day. The hawk just wanted me to leave it alone to be the hawk that God created and equipped it to be, even in a dangerous storm. How many times, I wonder, do I try to observe and query and figure out how to help another when I am certain I know how to help them or rescue them from pending danger, and yet, in truth, I have not understood that they are in a storm,(we all find ourselves in those at one time or another), but they are equipped to move through it.
Sometimes my assumptions are based on misunderstanding, wrong expectations, or simply my discomfort at another’s uncomfortable circumstance. What are my true motives when I want to behave with compassion or to assist? Am I just trying to make myself feel better, because I am more comfortable when they are acting in a way that feels more normal and safe for me? Of course there are times when others, both humans and creatures, truly need assistance, but I wonder if too many times, I try to rescue more for my own sensitivity’s sake than for theirs? hmmmmmmm…………..