(I have written this article more than a week ago. I delayed its publishing for later. Now I know why I had to do that.)
I heard repeated honking this morning as we made our way up to Rest and Be Thankful on Corstorphine Hill during our walk. No, it wasn’t the traffic on the road. It was the traffic in the sky! A flock of wild geese made their way in their usual V formation towards the Kingdom of Fife.
It is a magnificent view watching them flying together in formation. Apparently, there are two reasons they fly this way.
First, it conserves their energy. Each one flies slightly above the one in front of them, where the wind resistance is smaller. They take turns leading the group, falling back when getting tired and someone else takes their place leading from the front. A study of pelicans (true, they are not wild geese) showed that the ones flying alone flap their wings more often and have a higher heart rate than those who fly in formation!
Second, in V formation they can easily keep track of each other in the group. It assists them with communicating and coordinating their flight path. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason.
And then there is the honking, I want to add! It has multiple purposes. It is for communication, and encouragement, for guiding and leading, correcting the flight path, and encouraging, supporting each other.
Perhaps it was a couple of years ago when Jim Allen drew Emma’s and my attention to the honking of the wild geese. What Jim said to us remained with us ever since and when we hear wild geese honking, we always remember Jim. I can’t quote his words, but Jim said basically this:
“The geese at the back are honking, encouraging the ones at the front. Once they were at the front, but got tired, or weaker, or older. They are unable to lead from the front, but they are able to honk and encourage from the back the young ones who are leading at the front. That’s how I feel. I can’t be at the front any more, but I can honk and encourage you and the ones leading us in this church family. Keep going! Be faithful!”
Thank you, Jim, for honking! For encouraging us all at SSCB! Thank you for the spirit of the wild geese in you. By the way, did you know that the wild goose is the symbol of the Holy Spirit in Celtic Christianity?!
Jim has been a faithful member of our church family for many decades. He died early Monday morning (4 October), aged 97. If you listen carefully, you can still hear him honking for us!
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Ps. Please remember Sadie, Jim’s faithful wife, best friend, and partner for over 73 years (!), and their family and loved ones in your prayers!