I heard an Oriole today. It puzzles me that I can hear him so close and still it takes me so long to find him. Finally, I am caught off guard with that splash of bright color on the edge of the forest.
Its been that kind of day. A day that the sky shows a lot of blue. A day that leaves you thinking spring is a pretty good time of year. A brisk walk feels comfortable. If you pick up the pace at all, you begin to sweat.
The dogwoods are in bloom. So are the redbuds. Most everything else is turning green. It’s the kind of day that spice bush is the dominant smell in the forest. The kind of day you can find plenty of fiddleheads and an occasional morel. There is plenty of dandelion also but it has already turned bitter.
Critters enjoy these days as well. It’s the kind of day you might spot an eagle flying overhead (I did). It’s the kind of day you might get too close to a pair of geese raising young. The kind of day the gander might step aggressively in your direction and let out an evil hiss (did I just quote Charlie Daniels).
Its the kind of day a Carolina Wren is trying to prove he can deliver more decibels per ounce than any of the other birds. It’s the kind of day to find one of the largest bullfrogs I have ever seen. I can remember when it didn’t seem like it counted unless I caught it. For some reason, I am now content just to find him. It’s the kind of day it seems a bumblebee is following wherever I go. I would like to find a honeybee and follow him back to his honey hive.
Did I mention that I heard an Oriole? I have started thinking about an Oriole feeder. I wonder if I can make it possible to see these colors more often? And then, you turn on the radio and hear Bono’s voice against the instruments of Larry, Adam, and Edge… “It’s a beautiful day… don’t let it get away…” Yes it is, it’s that kind of day.
In the spring of the year I often find porcupines. Sometimes I follow them for a while just to see where they are going. If I get too close they will let me know by stopping and spreading their quill filled tail. I have never seen more than one at a time but find it interesting that a porcupine gathering is considered a prickle.
This past winter I was in Florida where I learned that a gathering of alligators is called a congregation. While that does make it sound like a religious gathering, I suspect if any one of us found ourselves in the midst of a congregation of alligators it would be a religious experience.
In the spring of the year you can walk out into almost any evening and hear an army of frogs singing their spring song. The names of gathering creatures are numerous. We might talk about herds, flocks, and schools but we might also talk about hives, colonies, packs, swarms, coveys, and convocations. Have you ever heard of a dazzle of zebras? Or a crash of rhinos? There are nearly as many names for gatherings as there are creatures.
The purpose for flocking is complex. But one undeniable reason is that being alone is risky. Traveling together helps individuals remain safe. An isolated individual can be an easy target. But beyond any practical reasons, Craig W. Reynolds points out the beauty of flocks, herds, and schools in the natural world. Group behaviors are beautiful to watch and interesting to think about. These gatherings are made up of individuals yet the overall picture is “one of nature’s delights.” This all requires a great deal of effort by individuals to stick together while avoiding collisions with one another.
I can’t read this stuff without thinking about the church. As part of the church we gather as an assembly, a body, even as a flock, and as a congregation. These gatherings have purpose. We gather because being alone is risky. We utilize our collective wisdom to allow for better decisions. We interact and rub shoulders with one another because together we demonstrate things like forgiveness, peace, and grace to the world. We keep getting together because things like salvation and holiness are group projects. While it is true that sometimes the congregation has sharp teeth and sometimes it feels like a prickle, the fact remains – we need one another.
Next weekend we have the opportunity to witness a perigee moon, this is when the moon is closest to earth. It has become popular to call this a Supermoon. You and I may not notice anything different on account of that, but the ocean tides undoubtedly will. It is interesting that this is also the night of the full Harvest Moon. This is the name of the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox.
It is our good fortune that this full moon will also bring with it a total lunar eclipse. Of course, this is when earth’s shadow is cast upon the moon. When this occurs the moon turns a reddish, coppery, rusty color. It has become popular to call this a blood moon. Since this is the fourth blood moon in the past eighteen months, some will try to convince us that it has extra cosmic significance. Perhaps quadruple the significance.
Some love what is fascinating just for the sake of fascination. Some wish we were living in a science fiction novel. Some would like to sell us a science fiction novel. Some would like to convince us they have cracked God’s code – and behold it is a lunar eclipse.
The fact is, a Super-Harvest-Blood Moon is a sign. It is a sign that the Creator has an incredibly wild imagination and enjoys a celestial show. In our part of the world it will sit high in the sky. And we will have a front row seat. Pray for clear skies.