Eagles are interesting, awe-inspiring creatures. On one level they are simply birds, on another a majestic master of their element. The sight of a pair of bald eagles gliding the currents so serenely, the sunlight detailing the white head feathers which give them their characteristic appearance (they aren't bald at all, you see) is a stop bang-still moment.
Recently Shaogo wrote concerning loss, especially the loss of friends and loved ones. It is a painful but common experience that most of us endure. As we age it seems that it is an experience which becomes more and more frequent.
I'm a person given to reflection at times and I believe that the eagles have a lesson to impart to us regarding loss.
Eagles, like most other birds, build a nest for the rearing of their young. The eggs are laid, incubated, and hatched within that nest. The hatchling stays there, having his food brought to him by the parent eagles. He grows, learns about the surrounding world, stretches and works his quickly feathering wings. His parents look to his care, his defense, all his needs. If he were given to introspection, I'm sure he'd think "What a grand eaglet I am, growing stronger every day!" He'd be quite right in thinking those thoughts.
Then something unexpected occurs. When Mom drops off his morning meal, she pauses long enought to extract a stick from his nest and drops it into the abyss. With each subsequent meal delivery, away goes another stick, another bit of security. After a time the nest is gone, dismantled by the parent birds for reasons unknown to their eaglet. There he stands, clutching a branch where he once had a spacious, safe nest. Then to make matters worse, the meal delivery system goes on strike. This is starting to look very serious.
Lets draw a few parallels. Let's imagine that the parent is God, or a Creator, or whatever deity you find convenient (God works just fine for me), or Darwinian evolution, or blind random luck. Next, imagine we're the eaglet, and the eaglet is safely ensconced into its nest which we call our body. Our body is quite suitable in most normal circumstances. It functions quite well, and does what we ask of it. Time passes and we grow, develop our abilities of mind, body, and presumably spirit.
We think all is well when suddenly we don't feel quite the same. We go to the medical establishment and find out we have diabetes. A stick tumbles into the abyss. Arthritis, glaucoma, shingles, cancer, the list is endless. Each condition represents a stick taken from the nest until finally we stand, alone and hungry, with but one option. This option is one we've never taken before. It involves deserting the nest. We love our nest and usually have to be evicted from it by our own mortality.
What of those loved ones who have preceeded us? For a moment, consider them as part of our retirement system from this existence. Consider them an 'employer match', an addition to our retirement compensation put away by our employer for our future benefit. They have been taken away from a place where they can only become further devalued by time and disease.
So, back to our analogy. There we are, standing alone on a branch on top of the world. We have to make a choice for to do nothing is but ruin. We fear the inevitable leap, fear a fall to the rocks below where only destruction can result. We teeter, growing ever weaker from our hunger and our indecision. We see our parents floating on the air and they make it look so simple, but just how does one go about gliding?
The denouement comes and we either let go and launch ourselves or we're rudely shoved off the branch. If we've failed to grow, failed to develop our abilities, we may indeed plunge to destruction. However, with the help of our loving parent, and the benefit of their care and nurture, we can launch ourselves into splendor, become that which we were meant to become all along.