At the End of the Driveway: The Blackberry Bush and the Red-Tailed Hawk

I took my grateful walk this morning; as usual, I stopped at the end of the driveway to contemplate my blessings. The breeze was blowing gently and the palms responded, swaying with gentle precision to the commands of the breeze. The shadows appeared and disappeared as expected. I was struck with the beauty of it all and the calm and natural way the things happened.

I looked through the gate at the mammoth blackberry bush just outside, sprawling and spreading itself at will. This volunteer blackberry plant, the gift of my bird family, apparently knows more about itself than I do. You see, I planted several blackberry vines in another “appropriate place” only to find them never quite happy there. But this vine, now eight or ten feet in diameter, has carved out its own destiny. The berries are almost ready.

I have told you about my red-tailed hawk that has made its home in the palm at the end of the driveway. It comes to visit occasionally. The most amazing visit was a few nights ago when I was sitting on my patio with a friend having a wonderful chat. All of a sudden we were both silent, staring at each other with a look that comes only with special wonderment about an event, sight, or sound.

A red-tailed hawk swooped down to the top of the umbrella pole at the table where we were sitting, picked up its prey and was gone with unimaginable swiftness. What poor rodent, at least my friend said it had a tail like a rat, made the mistake of hiding in the top of the umbrella, we’re not certain.   But the stunning silence of the approach and the quickness of the snatch completely astonished us. It came and went with its prey clutched tightly and we never heard a sound. We both agreed we had never experienced such an amazingly successful hunting expedition. I am stunned daily as I watch them  hunt, soar, and glide across my sky, But as I thought about it at the end of my driveway this morning, I was hoping the hawk would do a fly-over so I could thank it for the untold joy it brings. My friend and I will always be saying to each other,  “Remember the evening that the hawk…”

And there are so many more things at the end of my driveway besides the blackberry bush and the hawk. The most important things that are always in my gratitude walk are my family, especially my incredible four grandchildren, (Colin, Kera, Hailey, and Cassidy), my faith, my friends, and my love of my country that I fight every day to preserve for those I love.

The Iris and the Hawk – Lessons from Nature

My walk to the end of the driveway always is amazing. The lessons abound with every step. The mysteries of faith pop out at me. Or perhaps they aren’t so mysterious. Perhaps they are so simple we just don’t bother with them.

As I looked across the valley, the foggy sky obscured the twin peaks and the hills they occupy. My first lesson on faith. Even though I could not see them, I knew that they were there. I knew that the houses on the hills that I see on those hills every clear morning were still there. I had faith.

I looked for the iris blossom that was partially open yesterday. I knew that it would be open more today. That’s what flowers do unless eaten by bugs or otherwise destroyed. They are on a mission to grow and become what they were meant to be. I knew there wouldn’t be a daffodil or a rose on an iris plant. I have faith in that process. Sure enough. When I came to the plant in question, it had two fully opened blooms. The path of the iris is a model of faith expressed.

There was another lesson on the way. About halfway down the driveway was a fully-opened iris blossom even bigger than those I had so diligently been watching. There it stood–a single gorgeous, large blossom that reminded me of the great diversity of growth and development within one species. Such an obvious encounter should help me understand the human conditions surrounding the everlasting premise that the Creator is the ultimate purveyor of faith in the created–whether iris or person.

As I sat to ponder the lessons of faith I had experienced on my walk to the end of the driveway, I was treated to a special scene. I have watched the red-tailed hawks swoop to the earth to catch their prey with deadly accuracy. I have watched them soar to heights against a clear blue sky or duck behind a low-hanging cloud. When they just glide across the sky they are especially fascinating and beautiful. Just a little tip of a wing or the tail and the change of direction or altitude is accomplished. Amazing birds, these red-tailed hawks.

But about the treat. As I was piecing together my lesson on faith from the walk, a red-tailed hawk flew into the tall palm nearest me. Wow!! Of course. It had to have a home somewhere. Now I felt I had a different relationship with one hawk. I knew where it lived. As I sat with a big smile on my face and gratitude for the special moment, the hawk flew away and pursued its diving and soaring and doing what hawks do. It too, was being fully faithful to its place in the universal patterns of being a red-tailed hawk.

As I continued my walk, I knew that what the fog obscured in the west, or east, or south would be there when it cleared. Surely I can have as much faith as the bird that sings before the dawn breaks because it knows that the dawn is coming. By the time I continued around the house and back to the end of the driveway, I could see the outlines of the twin peaks. In just another few minutes, the hills and the peaks were clearly visible, outlined by the fleecy white clouds and the blue sky behind them.

Thank you nature. And special thanks to the iris and the red-tailed hawk. Surely I can take the timelessness of their lessons and be grateful that they are present to teach me. Yes, I will use the talents that I have been given to me to make a difference, to serve and grow. Almost 98 years of living should be a good place for new beginnings. New measures of faith should grow well in a soil of gratitude, love, curiosity, and joy.